It was the worst outing veteran catcher Mike Nickeas had seen from Daniel Norris.
Manager Gary Allenson said he had command issues and Norris himself was disappointed with the fact he wasn’t very sharp on Thursday night.
Oh yeah, and the 21-year-old kid pitched a five-inning one-hitter with nine strikeouts and picked up his third win in his third Triple-A start.
If that was a bad outing, the standard for a good one is pretty high for Norris. And however you categorize it, Norris was impressive and effective, leading the Buffalo Bisons to a 5-1 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in front of 11,134 at Coca-Cola Field.
“I’m never satisfied,” Norris said. “Any game I’ve pitched this year, I can’t sleep that night because you just keep thinking about the things you did wrong in the game. I could have done this better and that better. … And not to be hard on yourself, but there’s always room for improvement. That’s why I look forward to the next day so much because it’s just another opportunity to get better.”
Norris, who likely will move to the bullpen in the next few days, will want an opportunity to work more on his command after his latest start.
But his outing, which Allenson said was going to be capped at five innings regardless of pitch count, was solid. In his first 16∏ innings in Triple A he has struck out 32 and walked just four.
“He didn’t have the curveball working for him tonight for the most part, but he’s got a pretty good fastball there,” Allenson said. “It’s a little tough to pick up. It’s deceptive. … He’s got the kind of stuff where you expect nobody to get a hit and to be locked in his stuff and it doesn’t happen every time.”
For instance, the execution was off to start the third when Carmen Angelini drove a home run just over the left field wall for the only hit (and run) off Norrison for the day. But the next time Angelini came up, Norris locked him up with a 94-mile-per-hour fastball on the outside corner for a called third strike.
“I’ve only seen him three times, and he just continues to impress me over and over again,” Nickeas said. “I’m really amazed at what he’s able to do out there. His stuff is terrific. His arm just comes through so quick and everything is just shooting out. Every pitch looks the same all the time. It’s indicative of a guy who can pitch a very long time in this game.”
Norris got run support early as Anthony Gose had an impressive day on the base paths. He had four stolen bases – tying the modern day Bisons record for most stolen bases in a game – scored two runs, drove in one and went 2 for 4.
The Bisons close out their two-game series with Scranton tonight (7:05 p.m., Radio 1520 AM) with lefty Raul Valdes (4-5, 3.65) starting for the Herd against Matt Tracey (1-6, 4.78). Buffalo then begins a four-game series with Pawtucket to close out the final regular-season homestand. The Bisons, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2005, trail the International League wild-card leading PawSox by three games.