Bud Norris on his strange home and road splits

Bud Norris makes his second Orioles start tonight, but first on the road. If you look at Norris’ stats the last two seasons, he has pitched much better at home than on the road.

Here are Norris’ home-road splits the last two seasons with Houston:

2012: 4-1 with 1.71 ERA in 11 home starts, 3-12 with 6.94 ERA in 18 starts on road.

2013: 4-4 with 2.92 ERA in 13 home starts, 2-5 with 5.91 ERA in eight starts on road.

Among qualifying American League pitchers (1.0 IP per team game), Norris has the largest negative differential in home versus road ERA (2.99 difference).

Since the start of 2012, his ERA at home (2.37) ranks seventh in the majors, trailing Clayton Kershaw (1.93), Matt Harvey (1.99), Patrick Corbin (2.05), Chris Sale (2.29), Jered Weaver (2.31), and Madison Bumgarner (2.33).

You have to go back to the 2011 season to find a year where Norris had similar splits with an ERA of 3.72 at home and 3.84 on the road.

I asked him for his explanation for why the stats have been so different for him in his home and road starts?

“I think what hurt last year, a lot of my injuries, my nagging bugs, really popped up on the road last year,” Norris said. “I tried to pitch through some things last year that hurt me at times and also helped me at times.

“I know the splits are there. I’m trying to work on them. Think this year has been a little better. I know I had a really bad one in Oakland and made a bad pitch in Detroit.

“For the most part my mentality has to change a little bit. I have to be more focused on those days. I can’t look at the numbers as much as you guys do, I just need to go out there and make the adjustments and keep getting outs.”

He admits that he used whatever home-field advantage he had in his Houston starts the best way he could.

“I learned the ballpark,” he said. “I knew my strengths and how they played at that ballpark. I pitched well there, but you have to pitch well everywhere.”

This was the first time I had asked Norris about those splits, but I was sure he had been asked about them often and he confirmed he had been. Has to get a little annoying that it comes up so much in interviews.

“It truly does, but I mean, it’s a legitimate question too,” Norris said. “I’m always trying to learn and get better.”

Norris went 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA over 21 starts with Houston before his trade to the Orioles. When he pitched against Houston in his first O’s start last Thursday, he worked with catcher Matt Wieters for the first time. Did he shake off Wieters on some pitch calls?

“There were a couple with me knowing those hitters a little bit,” Norris said. “He had no problem with that and said make sure I throw the pitch that I want to throw. He will learn me, I’ll learn him and we’ll build a relationship.”

Norris got the win in his O’s debut, pitching six innings and allowing four hits and two runs with two walks and eight strikeouts. Did it feel different to pitch in a pennant race?

“Yeah, absolutely. The fans got into the game and the guys picked me up on offense,” he said. “The main focus is winning around here and for me that is the best part. I’m a competitive guy and that is where my focus is. I want to do my part to win some games and make a run at this thing.”

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