Seven pitches. That is all it took for the Cardinals to jump out to a 2-0 lead against Bud Norris tonight. And that was all the Cardinals needed. Well, at least for the first eight innings.
Matt Holliday followed up a Matt Carpenter single with a two run home run, and St. Louis was off and running. Norris then recovered and got out of the first inning without any further damage, but it was not a good night for the Houston ace.
It was certainly an interesting lineup the Astros put together tonight. They were without the DH and also without Chris Carter as he is still nursing a hand injury, but I’m not sure that would have mattered for the first seven innings as Houston only managed one run, on a J.D. Martinez single, against their nemesis Adam Wainwright. Wainwright also struck out nine Astros.
Heading into the season, who would have thought that Lucas Harrell would be coming out of the bullpen to relieve Norris as the long man. But that is what Harrell has turned into as his 5.04 ERA sent him to the bullpen. In relief, the former starter finished out the game pitching three innings, while allowing four hits and giving up two runs. He clearly has more work to do, and it doesn’t appear that his stay in the bullpen will be a short one.
Not only did Norris have performance issues tonight, but he also battled some health issues as well. Plus he came inside on Yadier Molina in the fifth inning which resulted in both teams being warned.
The Cardinals added two more hits and a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but that was not the biggest problem for Norris and the Astros. Following Matt Carpenter’s RBI, Norris appeared to catch his ankle on the mound and appeared to be moving gingerly right afterward. He was visited by the trainer, but ended up staying in the game.
Since the Astros were in St. Louis, Norris had to bat and while beating out an infield single he appeared to come up lame again. The starter again remained in the game and ended up allowing seven runs in total over five innings raising his ERA to 3.63.
Every starter is allowed a bad outing here and there so I would not be too concerned about this really impacting Norris’ trade value. The other cause for concern here, is that he seems to be battling some type of issue with a nail on his pitching hand.
After the game was well in hand, the Astros put up four runs in the ninth inning off Randy Choate and Michael Blazek. Jake Elmore, Jimmy Paredes, Jose Altuve, and Brett Wallace all drove in runs. However, the problem with that was that Paredes and Wallace both drove in runs on groundouts. Edward Mujica then came in to retire Martinez to end the game after the Astros made the final score look respectable.
The other thing of note, was that Wallace got the start at third base tonight. It was his third start of the season there and he looked good defensively turning a nice double play and making a nice play to throw a runner out at home.