After finishing off the game in successive days, Bud Norris has established himself as the St. Louis Cardinals closer moving forward.
“Yeah, it’s Bud’s game right now,” stated Matheny after Thursday’s win. “We’re still going to continue to get all the guys locked in. We’re going to have to have other people who can pitch the end of the game. There’s going to be times when Bud’s down. There’s going to be times we might need to put Bud in a little earlier and he needs help–you just never know. We have a number of guys that we’re still trying to figure out and get that rhythm with how it works out of the ‘pen. Nice options but we’re still trying to find it. Bud, he’s helped out by being able to come in and pick guys up.”
“It boosts my confidence, I’ve wanted to do it for a while,” shared Norris. “When I got drafted, that’s kind of how they projected me. I went a different route when I came up with Houston, but very excited to know that I’m the guy right now. I trust all the guys down there to the job as well, we have a great bullpen. We know that it’s going to catch fire at one point and just continue to roll. I’m excited to be a part of that. They’re going to pass the ball off to me, I’m going to pass the ball off to them–however it happens, I just think we want to win games and that’s the number one focus.”
Calling on Norris the last two games was set up by John Mozeliak announcing that for the time being, the team would not be using Greg Holland any longer in the 9th inning.
And as noted by Matheny, the setup is still a fluid situation but having Bud Norris as closer allows for the team to build out backwards in strategy. And it also helps the pitcher prepare.
“Mentally, absolutely it gives you a better idea of when you’re going to be in the game and why,” said Norris. “In the 9th inning, you’ve got to know what the game is in front of you and why you’re going to be in there, but you definitely helps out just preparation and mentally.”
Norris came on in the 8th inning and recorded the final four outs to pick up his sixth save of the season. It also marked the second time he’s recorded at least four outs to earn a save.
“I think that’s the advantage of me being a starter,” pointed out Norris. “I never really shut it down, regardless. I know that even as a starter, you basically two outs to rest and get some recovery but by the time the second out is made, you’ve got to take a deep breath and focus on the next half inning. I know I got out of a jam in the 8th inning, that’s a big spot but like I said, I knew that the game wasn’t over and I had three more outs to go get.”
“Amazing,” said Matheny. “Bud has come in in big situations and continues to get big outs and get us out of jams. He’s one of the guys that’s pretty rare right now that you can go four or five outs and he figures out a way to get it done. What a great addition to our club he’s been.”
After spending the majority of his career as a starter, Norris moved into the closer role for the Los Angeles Angels last season and converted 19 of 23 save opportunities. This season he is 6-6 and also has yet to allow an inherited runner (11) to score.
THE CANDLE BURNS
–A candle was in a holder burning on Wednesday prior to the St. Louis Cardinals game and again on Thursday the flame was lit, only it had been moved from a chess table to the locker of Norris.
“It’s a new candle,” said Norris. “We need it. I like it.”
Burning the candle is not–or at least has yet to become a matter of superstition. It was a matter of practicality.
“I was screwing around with Waino and Yadi and it smelled a little bad one day,” explained Norris. “They said you know what that is? They said that’s some champagne, I said we need to get some new, fresh champagne in here. So I think that’s kind of the focus for this year, try to make some fresh champagne.”
photo credit: Joe Puetz, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
A teammate just asked me… what’s that smell in our clubhouse. I told him it’s a smell that I haven’t smelled in a few years. It’s the smell of all our champagne pops over the years and the faintest hint of mildew. It’s one of my favorite smells in the world. #12happensin2018
— Adam Wainwright (@UncleCharlie50) April 25, 2018