NEW YORK — In a season that has been beset with injuries and continual roster shuffling, the Baltimore Orioles picked up one of their more complete — and needed — wins Saturday afternoon with a 6-1 victory at Yankee Stadium, hours after suffering a heartbreaking defeat.
It couldn’t be without intrigue and lingering uncertainty, though. That would be contrary to this club’s unintended theme of the season: Nothing is ever easy.
Staked to a four-run lead and cruising through five innings Saturday, Orioles starter Bud Norris walked off the Yankee Stadium mound with right groin tightness after warming up in the bottom of the sixth.
Afterward, he said he was “pretty sore” and that it was too early to predict whether he’ll make his next start.
“I don’t want [the injury] to go on, and I want to keep pitching for this team,” Norris said. “[But] I’ve really got to take it a day at a time.”
Norris said he first felt a twinge on a pitch to Francisco Cervelli in the fifth inning and told the athletic trainers once he came into the dugout. He was being monitored when he threw a warmup pitch before the sixth, grimaced and shook his head, prompting athletic trainer Richie Bancells, Manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Dave Wallace to run to the mound.
Showalter believes the club shut down Norris before the discomfort worsened and is hopeful he will be able to pitch Friday as scheduled.
“He’s getting an extra day next time out,” Showalter said. “We’ve got other options, but I’m hoping we caught it in time and kept it from developing into something.”
Norris, who allowed just one run on three hits and two walks in five innings to pick up his fourth straight win, had never pitched in Yankee Stadium before, and he excelled before a sellout crowd of 47,165.
Norris (7-5) has allowed two earned runs in his past three outings, a span of 192 / 3 innings, and lowered his ERA to 3.62. But instead of getting most of the day off, the bullpen again had to be used heavily, with Ryan Webb, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter combining for four scoreless innings to secure the win for the Orioles (38-35), who are again one game behind the second-place Yankees (39-34) in the American League East.
Baltimore, which lost on a game-ending home run by Carlos Beltran in the ninth Friday night, faces Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka in Sunday’s rubber match.
The Orioles tied a season-high with four homers, including three against left-hander Vidal Nuno (1-4). Nuno was victimized in the first on a solo shot by Adam Jones and by a pair of two-run homers, one hit by Nelson Cruz in the fourth and another by Steve Pearce in the fifth.
J.J. Hardy added his first home run of the year, a solo blast in the eighth.
Cruz’s homer was his 23rd of the season, tying him with Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion for the league lead. He has two home runs in three games.