Astros-Orioles Preview

Bud Norris walked down the hall to his new team, the Baltimore
Orioles, and stepped right into the middle of a pennant race.

Norris was dealt from the Houston Astros to the Orioles on
Wednesday, and he’ll make his first start for Baltimore on Thursday
night against the club that drafted him.

Baltimore (59-49) sent outfielder L.J. Hoes and left-handed
prospect Josh Hader to the Astros (36-70) for Norris, a 28-year-old
right-hander.

“We’ve been trying to bolster our pitching staff, and in Bud
Norris we have a pitcher that can give us some quality innings,”
said Dan Duquette, Orioles executive vice president of baseball
operations. “He’s been a very dependable pitcher for Houston over
the course of his career.”

The Astros and Orioles were in the middle of a three-game series
as the non-waiver trade deadline expired. So Norris packed up his
gear and made his way a few hundred yards through the bowels of
Camden Yards to the home clubhouse to begin the next chapter of his
big league career.

In the process, he left the team with the worst record in the
majors to a club seeking a second straight trip to the
playoffs.

“I’m excited for the future,” Norris said. “I pitched my way
into this situation to be traded and help out a team. This
(Baltimore) team is a young club, they know how to contend. They
had an amazing year last year. I just want to be any piece of the
puzzle I can to help this team keep pushing to the World
Series.”

In his fifth big league season after being picked by the Astros
in the sixth round of the 2006 draft, Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA
in 21 starts this year. He has a lifetime record of 34-46, going
13-28 with a 5.46 ERA outside of Houston.

“He’s competitive, a strike-thrower. He has a nice approach,”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s been healthy, and he
competes. I like that fact that he gets after it. He’ll have some
challenges ahead of him, but he’s not the only guy that’s got to do
well for us to be more competitive.”

Norris was the third pitching addition the Orioles made via
trade in July; previously they obtained Scott Feldman and Francisco
Rodriguez.

“I really thought once they got Scott Feldman my chances went
down,” Norris said. “But obviously we got a couple guys now.”

Scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday, Norris is ready to
take the mound for Baltimore.

“I’m pretty fresh,” said Norris, who hasn’t pitched since July
24.

Hoes was one of the Orioles’ top prospects. A third-round pick
in 2008, Hoes was hitting .304 for Triple-A Norfolk before being
recalled Sunday by the Orioles.

He was in Baltimore’s starting lineup Wednesday. Then, after the
trade, Hoes was inserted into Houston’s starting lineup. Hoes went
0 for 5 with two strikeouts, but he and his new teammates enjoyed a
rare 11-0 laugher as the Astros won for the sixth time in 27
games.

“It’s not every day that you show up to a major league ballpark
and look at the opposing team’s lineup and see someone in the
lineup playing left field for that team, then an hour later he’s
been traded and is now on your team and is playing right field,”
Houston manager Bo Porter said.

For the Astros, the rebuilding process continues.

“Whenever you lose your opening day starter, and a guy that’s
been our best pitcher all year, it’s definitely a blow to the
ballclub,” Porter said. “I think we have enough young pitching in
our organization that we feel comfortable moving forward that we
can replace those starts the rest of the year.”

Jordan Lyles (4-4, 4.92 ERA) gets the nod for the Astros as they
try to win two in a row for the first time since a four-game run
June 12-16. The 22-year-old right-hander is 0-3 with an 8.13 ERA in
his last six starts, with the Astros losing each game.

Lyles, who went 4-1 with a 3.22 ERA in his first 10 outings, has
never faced Baltimore.