I know hindsight is always 20-20, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out what to do with Bud Norris after he walked the lead-off hitter in the 8th inning last night.
Get him out.
He was already over the 100-pitch mark and had performed admirably against a very good Detroit line-up, with the Birds trailing 2-1 thanks mainly to Norris and a few timely defensive plays.
Once he walked that first batter in the 8th inning, his night should have ended.
Instead, Buck Showalter left Norris in because, as the manager explained afterwards, “I thought he deserved a chance to win the game.”
Well, he did. That said, you can’t manage with the pitcher’s fate in mind when one swing of the bat might turn a winnable game into one that goes in the loss column.
“Give him a chance to win the game” is much different than “leave him in the game to see if he flames out or holds on for dear life.”
Once Norris walked the lead-off hitter, his opportunity to “win the game” should have ended and Buck’s number one priority then becomes, “we need to win this game, somehow, for ourselves…”
Instead, Showalter stuck with Norris. Naturally, Ian Kinsler homered later in the inning to increase Detroit’s lead to 4-1 and that was all she wrote. There was more action, though, because Norris promptly hit Torii Hunter with a pitch in the at-bat following Kinsler’s dinger and was promptly tossed from the game.
None of that would have happened had Buck done the smart thing earlier in the inning and sent Norris to the showers after his inning-opening base on balls.
You go to the bullpen there, try and escape the inning with no damage, and give yourself a chance to win the game by scoring a run or two in the next two innings.
Instead, because Showalter wanted to give Norris “a chance to win the game”, the Orioles wound up limping to the finish line of a 4-1 defeat at Camden Yards.
I’m not saying the Orioles lost last night because of the manager. They lost last night because they only scored one run.
I am saying, though, that Showalter’s decision to leave Norris in the game was a contributing factor to the loss.