It wasn’t enough that Bud Norris beat his former teammates in his debut with the Baltimore Orioles.
To fully and formally integrate himself into the framework of his new club, the right-hander had to do one more thing: Take a pie to the face during the post-game interview.
And so, after throwing six crisp innings to provide the Orioles with a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday night, Norris absorbed a double-dose of shaving cream, courtesy of teammates Adam Jones and Alexi Casillia.
”I hadn’t had one before, it was the first one of my career,” Norris said with a grin. ”You see it all the time on the highlight reel and I had a feeling it might come. I’m pretty excited to take it. It was exhilarating.”
Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 39th home run off Travis Blackley in the seventh, a solo shot that gave him 100 RBIs for the season. He is the 39th player in club history to reach the 100 RBI mark and the first since Nick Markakis in 2009.
On this night, however, the story was Norris, who spent his entire big league career with Houston until being dealt to the Orioles for outfielder L.J. Hoes and a minor league prospect on Wednesday.
Because the Astros scratched Norris from his scheduled start against Baltimore on Tuesday, he was well rested before heading to the mound. Actually, he was too rested after having a week off.
”That was kind of the tricky part,” Norris said. ”Usually on a five-day rotation you feel really good and your body is right where it needs to be. My body was achy on me, which was kind of funky.”
The only runs Norris (7-9) allowed were on solo homers by Brett Wallace and Mark Krauss. Norris gave up four hits, walked two, and his season-high eight strikeouts included three by cleanup hitter Chris Carter.
”These guys got a great club over here,” Norris said. ”I just want to bring my part to the table.”
Eager to contribute to a contender after leaving a team with the worst record in the majors, Norris made a favorable impression in his first start. He had at least one strikeout in every inning and left with Baltimore ahead 5-2.
”He was good,” catcher Matt Wieters said. ”He was able to locate his fastball both in and out and mix in his off-speed, throw his slider behind in the count.
”It was a good first run. I’m sure he has a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotion facing his former team, especially when you just get traded. He handled it well and threw the ball well.”
Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 37th save.
Hoes got his first major-league hit, a third-inning single that snapped a 0-for-10 streak that began last year. He also got his first career RBI on a run-scoring grounder in the eighth.
But Houston blew a 2-0 lead and missed a chance to win its first series since June 18-20, against Milwaukee.
Facing Norris was strange for the Astros. He was their opening day starter, and now, instead of trying to win for the team, he was attempting to beat them.
”I think the biggest thing is before the game starts,” Wallace said. ”Obviously hearing his name and hearing his walk-out music, he came out to the same song. Just everything. Seeing him out there warming up against you was really surreal and it was kind of weird.”
The Orioles took two of three from the Astros by cranking up their sputtering offense. Baltimore totaled only 15 hits in its previous three games and had gone eight straight games without reaching double digits in hits before getting 11 against Houston starter Jordan Lyles (4-5) and two relievers.
As usual, Davis led the way.
”To have 100 RBIs and be hitting .300, that’s quite a combo,” manager Buck Showalter said. ”He’s been a big part of us being competitive.”
After Wallace connected in the second inning and Krauss homered in the fourth, Baltimore grabbed the lead with a three-run fifth. Henry Urrutia hit a one-out single and shortstop Jonathan Villar misplayed a grounder before Nate McLouth and Manny Machado followed with RBI singles. Markakis had a sacrifice fly.
Brian Roberts and McLouth hit run-scoring singles in the sixth to provide the Orioles with a three-run cushion.
NOTES: Davis ended his franchise-record run of 24 straight games with a strikeout. … Houston 2B Jose Altuve was held out of the starting lineup to rest his sore left quad, manager Bo Porter said. … Norris is the 14th pitcher to start for the Orioles this season, most since 1998. He is the 25th player to pitch for Baltimore in 2013. … Porter announced his rotation for the weekend series in Minnesota: RHP Jarred Cosart on Friday, LHP Erik Bedard on Saturday and LHP Dallas Keuchel. … Chris Tillman starts for the Orioles on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against Seattle. He is 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA against the Mariners since they traded him to Baltimore in 2008. … The Astros recalled Jimmy Paredes from Triple-A Oklahoma City. He started at 2B. … Orioles CF Adam Jones turned 28 on Thursday. … Houston’s Robbie Grossman went 6 for 8 in the series.