Baltimore Orioles vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette insisted he wasn’t willing to part with the club’s top young arms to acquire pitching at Thursday’s trade deadline.
Though his team did make a move, the Orioles appear to have stuck to that philosophy.
After picking up left-handed reliever Andrew Miller from Boston, Bud Norris will try to extend his team’s recent success Thursday night as the AL East leaders look to complete a three-game home sweep of the Los Angeles Angels.
The Orioles (60-46) had been mentioned as a potential suitor for Red Sox ace Jon Lester, but he went to Oakland. Duquette said Wednesday he had no intention of dealing young pitchers like current starter Kevin Gausman or top minor leaguers Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey.
"Some of the long-term prospects for our pitching we think are very valuable for the long-term sustainability of the organization," Duquette said.
Pitching hasn’t been much of a concern lately for the Orioles, whose starters have a 2.48 ERA during the team’s 7-2 stretch. The rotation’s 3.26 ERA since June 30 is sixth best in baseball. Gausman provided the latest solid outing Wednesday, giving up three runs and three hits over seven innings in a 4-3 win.
"We’ve been able to stay where we are because of the pitching," manager Buck Showalter said.
Baltimore further fortified its staff with Miller, acquired for minor league pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. Miller has a 2.34 ERA in 50 appearances this season, while Rodriguez was 3-7 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 starts with Double-A Bowie.
The Orioles can move 15 games above .500 for the first time since 2012, when they finished 93-69, and earn their first series sweep of the Angels (63-43) since August 2010.
They appear to have the right man on the hill as Norris (8-7, 3.94 ERA) is 4-0 with a 0.52 ERA in five career starts against Los Angeles. He’s looking to beat the Angels for the second time in two weeks after limiting them to two runs – one earned – over 6 2-3 innings in a 4-2 road win July 21.
However, that’s the right-hander’s only quality start in three outings since returning from a 2 1/2-week absence because of a groin strain. Following his promising effort in Anaheim, he gave up four runs, walked three and hit a batter over five innings in Saturday’s 4-3 loss at Seattle.
Josh Hamilton is 6 for 15 with a home run off Norris and David Freese is 8 for 20 with two doubles, but Albert Pujols (7 for 39) and Howie Kendrick (2 for 14) have struggled in their matchups.
The Angels, 2 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Oakland, will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak since a season-high four-game slide May 30-June 3.
Tyler Skaggs (5-5, 4.49) is hoping to build on Friday’s outing when he threw 5 2-3 innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 home win over Detroit. He did not get the decision, but it was a big improvement after getting tagged for 11 runs and 15 hits over his previous two starts.
"His fastball is his best pitch, and his curveball is really good, too," Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said.
The left-hander, though, is 1-3 with a 5.37 ERA in his last seven starts.
Skaggs has never faced Baltimore but should be weary of Adam Jones, who went 2 for 4 on Wednesday and homered in the first inning for the second straight night. The All-Star outfielder, who has 21 home runs on the season, has hit six with 13 RBIs in his last eight meetings with the Angels.
Slugger Chris Davis is day to day after missing the past two games due to a stomach virus.