Tigers end 'tumultuous' trip on high note
Norris' eye-opening debut caps wild week on road
BALTIMORE -- Brad Ausmus is rarely at a loss for words. He had to pause Sunday when asked to describe the Tigers' just-completed road trip in one word.
"I'm trying to give you a good word," he told reporters after the Tigers' 6-1 victory over the Orioles, as he looked back over the past 10 games over three different cities, and everything that happened in between.
"Let me think about it," he said.
There was a lot to ponder. They left Detroit a week and a half ago not only fighting for a playoff spot, but fighting for the state of their team. They return with David Price in Toronto, Yoenis Cespedes in New York and Joakim Soria in Pittsburgh. Their return is a top prospects list that looks like it came from another organization.
They're coming back with a different-looking roster but actually the same standing, even if there are differing opinions about their playoff hopes.
"'Tumultuous?' That's a good word," Ausmus said.
Tumultuous would work.
"Well, a lot has happened," Ausmus said. "We didn't play particularly well. We lost some of the heartbeat of the team. But we still don't consider ourselves out of anything. You've got to keep plugging away. We'll take the off-day [Monday], and then we're right back at it against the Royals."
Daniel Norris was at Triple-A Buffalo when this road trip began, trying to work his way back to the big leagues after opening the season in the Blue Jays' rotation. He didn't return to Detroit on Sunday night so much as he went there for the first time. Thanks to Sunday's 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball to help earn a series split, he arrives with some public currency.
"I wanted to come in and make a good impression," he said, "so it was nice."
The Tigers left town 10 1/2 games out in the American League Central, and four games back in the AL Wild Card. They enter Monday 11 1/2 games back in the AL Central race with the division-leading Royals coming to town, but just 3 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second AL Wild Card spot.
The Tigers' postseason chances have plummeted with the trades -- Baseball Prospectus put their chances at just 7 percent entering Sunday, compared with 19 percent when they left town. But the way this week went, they're getting used to focusing on themselves.
"We've got to just keep winning," Ausmus said. "We would've liked to win three or four, and we probably should've considering the six-run lead we had in Game 2. But we can't do anything about the past, so to win today and get a split is a positive, I think."