Norris threw a bullpen session and appeared to be “tentative,” according to manager Buck Showalter, which led to the decision to start Chris Tillman in Game 2 of Friday night’s doubleheader against the Rays at Camden Yards.
Norris left his most recent start Saturday night against the Yankees after five innings because of tightness in his groin.
Showalter sent Norris home early tonight and joked that he almost called him back as he ran out of available relievers. He didn’t want to use T.J McFarland, who worked two innings Tuesday night.
“I was thinking about, the heck with the groin, we could use Bud,” Showalter quipped.
The game ended with Chicago reliever Daniel Webb’s wild pitch that scored pinch-runner David Lough in the bottom of the 12th inning, giving the Orioles a 5-4 victory.
Has Showalter ever seen a walk-off wild pitch? Let him count the ways.
“You ever been in extended spring?” he asked. “You ever been in instructional league? You ever been in the Alaskan League? New York-Penn League? We won a game one time, a walk-off wild pitch with a man at second. So yes. Apropos, right?”
Nelson Cruz tied the game with a grand slam off Javy Guerra in the eighth, and the bullpen tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
“Obviously, Nellie had a big blow for us. Fortunate,” Showalter said. “Their guy (Hector Noesi) was good. He was in the bottom of the zone the whole night. Changeup when he wanted to, slider. He threw maybe two, three pitches the whole outing above the belt. He was good. Ubaldo (Jimenez) was pretty good. Got some big outs from our bullpen. We were down to our last bullet there. I was not going to use McFarland tonight.”
The Orioles most likely will avoid making a roster move Friday to add another reliever.
“With the off day tomorrow, I think we’re going to be OK,” Showalter said. “We were just starting to talk about it, but I wanted to shorten up (Ryan) Webb. Darren (O’Day) had to pitch tonight. He had four days off. I was going to send Zach (Britton) back out there for the first three hitters the second inning, but the rain delay made it not very smart. And shortened up (Brad) Brach, so we’ve got everybody available on Friday, so I don’t think we will.”
Asked whether he now assumes that Cruz will deliver a big blow in the clutch, Showalter replied, “We like getting the at-bats to him and a lot of other guys, but I don’t think anybody takes for granted how hard it is to do what he’s doing.
“I think he’s ticked off about, the first and second situation (in the 10th), trying to end it there. But Tommy pitched out of a big jam there, leadoff double. These guys at this level of play, it doesn’t surprise me, the things they’re able to do. He’ll be the first to tell you a lot of people had to do some things to set that up. It didn’t look like it was a 4-4 game or it ended up being 5-4 in the first seven innings. Eight innings. Whatever it was. It seems like yesterday. It was yesterday.”
Chris Davis drew a nine-pitch walk off Scott Downs to load the bases in the eighth and set up Cruz’s slam.
“I thought one of the key at-bats the whole inning was Chris’,” Showalter said. “It’s one thing to get him 2-2, 3-2, but to finish it off. That won’t go unnoticed. That was a key at-bat to get the at-bat to Nelson. A lot of stuff happened after that, too. I thought Webb’s inning, facing that part of the order, was big. I thought he was key, but Chris’ at-bat was big.”
Nick Markakis had four hits tonight, including a single in the 12th after Nick Hundley’s leadoff walk.
“It seems like Nicky gets the hit that sets up things all the time. He’s always in the middle of things,” Showalter said. “It’s funny, I was going around patting guys on the back and I don’t think I’ve ever had as many soaking wet jerseys. Nick Hundley, he’s wet from head to toe. That was challenging. It wasn’t from the rain, either. These guys changed jerseys a couple times. He got popped pretty good under the chin. I almost pinch-hit for him there leading off the inning. I wasn’t real sure if he had all the cob webs out.”