The Baltimore Orioles have been streaky in the month of August but have been good enough to be only three games back of the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card spot with 36 to go. The Orioles will take on the Athletics at home this weekend, which means they will need starting pitcher Bud Norris to push through his back pain and put forth a solid performance Friday night.
Norris began to experience a stiff back in his last outing, a win against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 17.
“I started to feel it a little bit,” Norris told Orioles.com after the victory, “so I’m just going to take care of it, and it’s not going to hamper me too much. I’ve got an extra day this week, which will be big. But you are going to have nagging stuff this time of year, and you’re going to have to fight through it.”
Fight through it is exactly what Baltimore needs from the right-hander. Since the team acquired Norris from the Houston Astros in a trade, he is 3-1 with a 3.91 earned run average and 21 strikeouts in five games (four starts). The Orioles would have been fooling themselves if they expected anything too much better than that. However, it is not unreasonable to believe the 28-year-old can step his game up for a team that has a legitimate shot at contending for a postseason berth.
One could make the case that Norris’ start against the Athletics could be the biggest of his career. He never really had anything major on the line while pitching for the Astros, with the exception of the necessity of a solid outing in order to earn a spot in the starting rotation. However, a win Friday night would make Baltimore only two games back of Oakland going into the weekend.