Norris leads Tigers over White Sox in finale
CHICAGO -- Daniel Norris threw five scoreless innings and Tyler Collins hit a three-run triple in support as the Tigers defeated the White Sox, 6-0, on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field in the final game of the regular season. Detroit took the season series with the victory, 10-9, but still finishes last in the American League Central Division in a season where both clubs fell short of expectations.
After they won the division and competed in the postseason, the Tigers finished 74-87, their lowest win total since 2008. The White Sox, after retooling their lineup in the offseason, exceeded last season's win total, but still finished fourth in the division at 76-86.
"It's been a longer year than we hoped," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "Despite the fact that the record isn't where we wanted, it doesn't mean they didn't work their tails off and try to win on a daily basis. Just the grind and toll of a baseball season mentally and physically can be exhausting."
After he threw 54 pitches in his last start, Norris allowed only one hit and one walk while tossing 71 pitches. The rookie left-hander split part of the fingernail on his left pointer finger, but Ausmus noted that was a result of the cold and not a factor in removing him from the game. Norris finished September by surrendering a combined three earned runs in four starts after coming off an oblique injury.
"It's a great way to end the season on a positive note," Norris said. "Just to come back at all and pitch was a goal of mine. I didn't want my season to be over. I wasn't ready for it. So I wanted to come out and show them what I was made of."
Norris and the Tigers' bullpen shut down a White Sox offense that put only one runner in scoring position. Chicago was unable to back up starter Frankie Montas, who allowed one earned run across four innings.
"Very disappointing [season]," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Absolutely. But now it's time, you go back to work and try to figure out what you're going to be doing in the future as far as guys making it to Spring Training, start doing that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ending on a good note: Collins wasn't called up until May and was sent down to Triple-A Toledo for much of July, but he was one of the strongest Tigers to finish the season. The outfielder's triple cleared the bases in the seventh inning, adding insurance to the Tigers' 2-0 lead. He finished the season on a six-game hitting streak with eight RBIs and a .444 average in that span. The 25-year-old is hoping he can use the progress from the end of the season to carry over to a spot on the 25-man roster.
"Any time you have success as a young player at the Major League level, it can snowball into more success and some confidence," Ausmus said.
Montas impresses: It's not known yet whether Montas will be looked at as a reliever or a starter in the long term by the White Sox. But the rookie exited on a high note on Sunday in his second big league start, both against the Tigers. The right-hander fanned seven over four innings.
"I enjoyed my time here and I think I tried to take advantage of the opportunity they gave me," Montas said. "And I learned a lot. Now I am ready for next year. I will work hard in the offseason and do a better job next year."
Harnessing talent: There's little doubt that Daniel Webb has Major League talent and a plus-arm. Now the right-hander simply needs to figure out how to transfer that talent consistently to the mound. Webb allowed three runs in the seventh on Sunday, meaning he has yielded 13 earned runs over his last three innings covering five total appearances.
One last chance: He didn't have his best appearance of the season nor did he get any sort of recognition, but Randy Wolf ended his season just the way he wanted to. The 39-year-old reliever allowed a double and a walk but pitched out of the sixth inning to preserve Norris' win. In what could be his final season, Wolf was glad to help out a former teammate in Norris and get an opportunity to pitch on the final day of the season.
"It was really nice to get in there, since you never know what the future holds," Wolf said. "It's been kind of a whirlwind past two years, and I think it's going to be nice to go home and let my mind settle down and go from there."
"It's not the coaching, it's us as players. If the season failed, it's us." -- Adam Eaton, on the disappointing 2015 campaign for the White Sox
"If everyone's healthy, there's a good core, a good nucleus. It's not rebuilding. We're not rebuilding from scratch, planning three or four years out. I think we're in a spot where the right pieces are added, we could immediately be added in contention to win." -- Ausmus, on looking forward to putting a team together for the 2016 season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Eight of Josh Wilson's 12 Major League hits this season have come against the White Sox, including one on Sunday. Wilson has also tallied four of his five RBIs against the White Sox this season.