Detroit – Different night and an entirely different animal on the mound for the visiting team.
After scoring 19 runs and pounding out 24 hits Tuesday, the Tigers offense Wednesday night was shackled by a nasty bit of left-handed power pitching from Mariners’ James Paxton.
It wasn’t a fair fight.
Boring 97-mph fastballs in on the outside corner, floating the occasional 81 mph knuckle-curveball and 89-mph cutter, Paxton cruised through seven innings, helping the Mariners to a series-evening, 8-0 win.
He struck out nine Tigers, all in the first five innings. Three of the first five to face him were called out on strikes.
Of his 103 pitches, 71 were fastballs, with an average velocity of 96.3 mph. He topped out at 98. According to MLB’s Baseball Savant, Paxton got 10 swings and misses and 12 called strikes on the fastball. He also got five whiffs with his cutter.
The web site does not keep a count of broken bats — but there were several. Other than the four hits, only three other balls were hit to the outfield against him.
The Tigers had two scoring opportunities. John Hicks doubled, sending Victor Martinez to third base in the second inning. Paxton struck out James McCann and got Dixon Machado on a broken bat ground out to end the threat.
They put two on in the fourth — a single by Justin Upton and Martinez who struck out and reached on a passed ball. But again, Paxton slammed the door — striking out Hicks and McCann.
They put two on in the seventh, but that ended quickly when Machado bounced into a double play.
It was another night of frustration for Tigers lefty Daniel Norris. Coming off a 42/3-inning start in Tampa when he felt his stuff was better than the results, he didn’t seem to have either on Wednesday — stuff or results.
He was KO’d without recording an out in the fifth inning. He was already at 104 pitches and left with the bases loaded and trailing 3-0.
Only one of those runs scored, thanks to a solid clean-up job by Shane Greene.
Norris needed 29 pitches to get out of the first inning unscathed, leaving the bases loaded.
But the Mariners scored three times in the second on an RBI single by Jean Segura and a two-run home run by Guillermo Heredia.
The Heredia homer was indicative of Norris’ issues. He got ahead in the count 1-2. But he nibbled and missed with the next two pitches and then hung a slider on 3-2. Even Heredia, who had just two career homers, couldn’t miss it.
Norris was at 71 pitches after three innings. He had a shot to get through five innings, pitch-count wise, but he gave up a leadoff double to Robinson Cano, walked Nelson Cruz and gave up a bloop single to Taylor Motter, again after he had him in a 1-2 hole.
In his last two starts, Norris has thrown 205 pitches and not gotten through the fifth inning.
The Mariners tacked on four more runs off reliever Anibal Sanchez, who ate up four innings and struck out five.
Cruz blasted a two-run home run in the sixth, and the torrid Segura doubled home a run in the seventh. Sanchez dropped a throw covering first base in the ninth, which allowed Danny Valencia to score from second with two outs.
Segura, who came off the disabled list Tuesday, posted three hits in each of the two games.
The home run by Cruz was the sixth allowed by Sanchez in 142/3 innings. Ironically, it was four years ago to the day that he struck out 17 Braves hitters. Must seem like another lifetime to Sanchez.
BY Chris McCosky , The Detroit News