Norris continues momentum from strong spring
Blue Jays starter exceeds expectations in earning first win
NEW YORK -- Daniel Norris earned plenty of rave reviews with his performance during Spring Training and on Thursday night he carried that momentum into the regular season.
Norris picked up the first victory of his Major League career after a solid season debut against the Yankees. He handled the chilly conditions at Yankee Stadium with relative ease and earned the 6-3 win by allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings.
The only real blemish on the night came in the sixth inning when he allowed a pair of solo home runs to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Outside of those two at-bats, the start went better than just about anyone could have hoped for.
"I felt good, getting into the sixth and maybe just left a couple of balls up," Norris said. "Take those away and it was a pretty good night ... I didn't really feel [the nerves] at all. It was just battling myself and the other team."
Norris' season opener in the Bronx would have been intimidating for a lot of pitchers, especially for someone who previously had just one big league start under his belt, but the 21-year-old seemed comfortable from the outset.
In the first inning, Norris struck out Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran. In the second, he sent away two more with strikeouts of outfielder Chris Young and catcher John Ryan Murphy. Norris went on to strike out one more on the night, to go with two walks and six hits.
The Blue Jays will be hoping there's plenty more of that from Norris, who has the type of potential to become one of the breakout starts in the league. MLB Pipeline has ranked him the club's top prospect and it's easy to see why with his combination of a mid-90s fastball, plus slider, reliable curveball and two different kinds of changeups.
"Very good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said when asked to assess Norris' performance. "They ended up getting a couple of home runs on him late but he was really in control. He looked confident and relaxed out there. He picked up right where he left off in Spring Training on a tough night to pitch."