Tonight’s pitching matchup and notes on Joseph and Pearce

ARLINGTON, Texas - Bud Norris has faced the Rangers once in his major league career. Nick Martinez has never pitched against the Orioles.

Not a lot of history in tonight’s matchup at Globe Life Park.

Norris is 1-4 with a 4.71 ERA in six road starts this season. In his only outing against the Rangers on March 31, 2013, he picked up the win in Houston after allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Norris hasn’t pitched since May 28 because manager Buck Showalter decided to tweak his rotation following Monday’s off day. He’s 4-10 with a 4.89 ERA in six-plus days of rest.

Martinez, a rookie, is 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 10 games, including five starts. He’s walked 17 and struck out 20 in 39 1/3 innings.

Left-handers are batting .300 against Martinez, while right-handers are hitting .261.

Martinez allowed only one run in 11 2/3 relief innings, but he was forced into the rotation by an injury to Matt Harrison.

Showalter will check his bullpen today to make sure everyone is healthy. He indicated yesterday that a reliever might go on the disabled list, but it didn’t happen.

Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day and Preston Guilmet pitched last night and Zach Britton warmed up in the ninth. They must be fine. O’Day lowered his ERA to 0.79.

Nelson Cruz smacked his 21st home run, but he’s been bothered by periodic cramping in his leg. I’m not a doctor, but aren’t bananas supposed to help? Something about the potassium.

As I recall, Gilligan never suffered from cramps and he ate a lot of bananas on that island.

With a right-hander on the mound for the Rangers, Nick Hundley figures to start behind the plate. Caleb Joseph has started against the last three left-handers to face the Orioles, including Joe Saunders last night in the series opener.

Joseph had his left knee wrapped in ice after being drilled by a Robbie Ross pitch in the ninth inning.

“It’s good,” he said. “Maybe two inches lower and really bad, but it hit me right in my IT band, so it will be really sore, but probably the best place to get hit around the knee area. He’s got a good cutter. It came in there hot.”

Showalter could put David Lough in left field tonight and use Cruz as the designated hitter, which would keep Steve Pearce on the bench.

Pearce was 1-for-11 in Houston, but he made a diving catch in left field and also threw out a runner attempting to stretch a single into a double. He’s given the Orioles plus defense at first base and left field, as if he’s trying to ruin his reputation of being strictly a hit man.

“Of course, I take pride in it,” he said. “I show up at the park every day and I work, and it’s showing up on the field. It’s good to see that the hard work is paying off.

“I want to show these guys that I can play defense. I’m an athlete. I can play a bunch of positions. I come here every day and I take ground balls at first base and I go to the outfield and I throw and power shag. I’m always working.”

I want a “Power Shag” T-shirt. Extra medium, please.

Pearce could have left the Orioles after they placed him on unconditional release waivers, but he wanted to stay. They wanted him back. It worked out for both sides.

“It’s a funny game,” he said. “It’s kind of my career in a nutshell. Always that 25th guy, that odd-man-out guy, but I don’t let it get me down. I continue to work and always want to get better.”

It’s evident that Pearce is a favorite of Showalter, who said the following about him during the series in Houston:

“Every time we win there’s not many people more excited about the Orioles winning a baseball game than Steve Pearce. I get that. We get that about him.”

I relayed that quote to Pearce a few days ago.

“At the end of the day, if we win, it’s all worth it,” he said. “It’s all worth the hard work that you put into it. You don’t like to leave the park, working so hard, and lose. At the end of the day, winning is definitely gratifying.”

It sure beats losing, something the Orioles haven’t done in their last three games.

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