The Baltimore Orioles would like to bolster their rotation before the trade deadline. They're about to get a particularly close look at one of the best arms available.
Bud Norris takes the mound in what could be his final start for the Houston Astros as they visit the Orioles on Tuesday night.In their chase for a second consecutive postseason appearance, Baltimore (58-48) has been bogged down by a starters' ERA of 4.65 that ranks among baseball's worst.The Orioles already made one move earlier this month to try to improve that weakness, acquiring Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs, but he's 2-2 with a 5.12 ERA in five starts with Baltimore. According to the team's official website, general manager Dan Duquette would like to do more before Wednesday's non-waiver deadline.Houston shipped off one asset Monday, dealing closer Jose Veras to Detroit for minor league outfielder Danry Vasquez and a player to be named.Norris (6-9, 3.93 ERA) figures to be one of the most coveted pitchers leading up to the deadline, with general manager Jeff Luhnow telling the club's official website the right-hander has attracted "significant interest.""There's nothing close at this point, but we still have 2 1/2 days to go and still a lot of activity could happen, even though nothing's close," Luhnow said.Perhaps the possibility of being traded has clouded Norris' focus in recent weeks. He posted a 2.85 ERA over 12 starts from May 3-July 3, but has since gone 0-2 with an 8.47 ERA in three outings.Manager Bo Porter told the team's website he spoke to Norris last week about ignoring the swirling trade speculation."Just go out and pitch and don't worry about what the next day is going to bring and whether you're going to be here or someplace else," Porter said. "Let the decision-makers that are making those decisions be able to be allowed to make the decisions, and you control the portion of this that's in your hands, which is your performance."The Astros (35-69) have lost 20 of 25 as well as eight of nine to Baltimore, including two of three in Houston from June 4-6. Norris lost the finale of that series, throwing seven innings of three-run ball in a 3-1 defeat.However, the Orioles have lost five of six after winning four straight to begin the season's second half. The pitching woes have been magnified by an offensive slump, as the club has produced 15 runs in the last six games and is homerless in three of four.Jason Hammel's losing streak extended to six games in a 5-0 home loss to Boston on Sunday, but the Orioles managed only five hits and were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position."The big emphasis, what I look at, is we didn't score any runs," manager Buck Showalter said. "We didn't mount much of anything offensively."Chris Davis is 3 for 22 over his last six games and is homerless in 10 straight, his longest drought of the season, while fellow All-Stars Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy are mired in 4-for-32 and 3-for-22 slumps, respectively. That trio was 0 for 12 on Sunday with Davis striking out three times.Hardy was 3 for 3 off Norris earlier this year while Davis went 2 for 4.Baltimore will hand the ball to Wei-Yin Chen (5-3, 2.78), who has remained solid amid the rotation's recent struggles. He's 2-0 in three starts with a 2.18 ERA since returning from a strained oblique.
Chris Davis' sixth-inning home run was calculated at 357 feet, his shortest home run since August 27, 2009 (350 feet off Phil Coke). Davis' average home run distance is 383.3 feet in July, and his average distance and speed off the bat on home runs have decreased each month this season. Davis' home run had a speed off the bat of 96.3 MPH, his slowest of the season.