Detroit – It wasn’t so much that he was fidgety on the mound. As manager Brad Ausmus said afterward, “That’s just Daniel. He’s fidgety normally.”
But something seemed to be bothering Daniel Norris in the first three innings of the Tigers’ 7-5 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday. He walked three hitters. He was bouncing breaking balls. His velocity on the fastball went from touching 95 mph in the first inning to settling in at 92-93.
“I felt pretty good out there,” he said. “There was just a little bit of a hole in the mound and that’s why I had to have the ground crew come out and fix it. Other than that, it was just one of those days.
“Definitely a grind but it was fine.”
Once the mound was repaired, Norris seemed to settle in. He set down six straight Red Sox hitters in the fourth and fifth and got a key double-play ball to put up a scoreless sixth.
“I settled down as the game went on,” Norris said. “I think what happened, I just kind of hit a wall. After the second and third, I just kind of got tired. So I had to start really focusing on making pitches instead of trusting my stuff.
“The first two or three innings, I was just kind of letting it eat, and then after that, I realized I was a little tired, so I needed to focus on making pitches. That’s when I started having more success.”
It was the slider that got him through. It became his out-pitch in the final three innings.
“He struggled a little bit with his command on the fastball,” catcher Alex Avila said. “He went to a lot of his off-speed stuff as the game went on to keep them off balance. He was commanding that a little bit better, so we had a good mix of that going.
“He looks good going forward. I think he will definitely be much better than he showed today, and he threw pretty well. He was able to make some big pitches when he needed to.”
It was Norris’ 20th straight start where he’s allowed three runs or less. That’s the longest running streak in the major leagues, one better than Justin Verlander’s streak of 19.
Around the horn
Miguel Cabrera smacked a hard single to right field in his first at-bat Sunday, snapping an 0-for-12 skid, the longest hitless streak to start a season of his career. He added an infield hit in the seventh.
… Avila had four at-bats Sunday and was in an 0-2 hole in each one. He walked, struck out twice and then, in his final at-bat, hit an opposite-field double against the Red Sox’s shift.
BY Chris McCosky , The Detroit News