Baltimore Orioles starter Bud Norris has a chance to accomplish something that only two pitchers have done in more than a century if he can win Wednesday night.
He’s got a great chance of succeeding thanks to the hot bat Adam Jones is wielding.
Norris looks to become the third pitcher in 101 years to win his first five starts against the New York Yankees, who will try to contain Jones in this three-game series finale at Camden Yards.
The only pitchers since 1914 to open their careers with five victories in as many outings over baseball’s most storied franchise are Bernie Boland, who did it with Detroit between 1915-17 and Charlie Hough, who accomplished the feat for Texas from 1982-83.
Norris faced New York (3-5) for the first time last year, posting a 2.74 ERA in winning all four starts. He is well aware of how Jones can provide support, with the center fielder going 7 for 14 with five RBIs in those contests.
Jones is seeking to homer in four straight games for the second time in his career, also doing so May 23-26, 2013. He is 11 for 17 with four homers, nine RBIs and eight runs in five games on this homestand that concludes Wednesday.
Jones homered and drove in two runs in Tuesday’s 4-3 victory, giving him seven of his 11 RBIs in the last three games.
Norris has already matched his loss total against AL East foes from last season when he went 9-1 with a 2.85 ERA versus the division. The right-hander yielded eight runs over three-plus innings in Friday’s 12-5 defeat to Toronto.
"It’s tough to do that here at home and in front of my team," he said. "I’ll take that one on me, for sure."
He could find things easier Wednesday. Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew combined to go 4 for 21 against him last year.
Norris has never faced Alex Rodriguez, who made the final out Tuesday as a pinch-hitter. Rodriguez will be back in Wednesday’s lineup.
"He’s played every game, started every game and played defense last night so I thought it would be best to give him today (off)," manager Joe Girardi said.
Left fielder Brett Gardner will likely miss a second straight game with a sore wrist though he could appear as a pinch-runner.
"We’re hoping to get him back in there Friday," Girardi said.
Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi has never faced Baltimore (4-4) and has only faced Everth Cabrera among Orioles regulars. Cabrera has a single in nine at-bats.
Eovaldi gave up three runs over 5 1-3 innings in Friday’s 6-5, 19-inning loss to Boston in his club debut. The right-hander’s 2.89 ERA in April is his best in any month.
He will face Caleb Joseph for the first time. The Orioles catcher is 4 for 7 in this series, with his first career triple Tuesday.
"I’ve really tried to shore up a few things, a little smaller leg kick and people are shifting me over there, which is kind of crazy for a 9-hole hitter," Joseph said.
Orioles slugger Chris Davis is 0 for 7 with six strikeouts in this series and has fanned 12 times in 26 at-bats this season.