DETROIT -- The progress keeps building in increments for Daniel Norris, even if the results do not. It's enough progress to have manager Ron Gardenhire looking ahead to next season."I like the way he competes. I like his stuff," Gardenhire said after the Tigers' 5-3 loss to the Twins Tuesday
DETROIT -- The progress keeps building in increments for Daniel Norris, even if the results do not. It's enough progress to have manager Ron Gardenhire looking ahead to next season.
"I like the way he competes. I like his stuff," Gardenhire said after the Tigers' 5-3 loss to the Twins Tuesday night at Comerica Park. "He's missed a lot of baseball, so he's about where you normally are in the first few weeks out of Spring Training as a pitcher. He's been working very hard to get back, and he's got good stuff.
"He's got all the pitches that you need to get people out in this league. I like the way he competes. I'm excited about this kid."
Norris' pitching line in Tuesday's 5-3 Tigers loss to the Twins at Comerica Park will look like most of his other starts over the past couple years, with some encouraging stats, but not enough outs and not the desired result. But for five innings, Detroit's young left-hander shut down the Twins' lineup on two hits, carrying Detroit through what was a scoreless duel with Jake Odorizzi. Just as big for Norris, he had completed five innings in just 76 pitches, giving him room for a couple more innings if he could maneuver through the Minnesota order for a third time.
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Three hits, a walk and two runs quashed that hope, chasing Norris two outs shy of what would've been his first quality start since June 16 of last year. Nonetheless, he continued to show signs of becoming the effective starter the Tigers need him to become next season, even as he works with a slower fastball in the lower 90s after groin surgery in early May.
"I hate talking about velocity, because sometimes it's just a number," Norris said. "I think right now, my fastball's playing like it's harder. I think the big thing for me is just feeling that second gear. There's times when you want to reach back and let one go and really challenge a guy, and I think right now that's tough for me to do. I'm kind of waiting for that second gear to come."
Norris (0-5) showed improved fastball command, but he also worked ahead of hitters as the game went on by spotting his offspeed stuff for first-pitch strikes. He induced five swinging strikes off his slider and dusted off his changeup for four pitches. When he seemingly fell out of form with four pitches off the plate for a Robbie Grossman walk leading off the fourth inning, he gathered himself and retired the Twins in order from there with two strikeouts, culminating on a 92-mph fastball on the inside corner to retire Miguel Sano.
"I went back to what was working today for me up to that point," Norris said of his in-game adjustment. "That got me back in a groove. I was trying some stuff on my fastball there."
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A 1-2 changeup that stayed up for Christopher Austin put the Twins in front in the fifth with an RBI single to center before Jake Cave's grounder up the middle barely eluded Dawel Lugo's grasp for another tally. A three-run seventh inning off rookie Sandy Baez proved to be the difference.
Odorizzi (7-10), who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his last start against the Yankees, took a one-hit shutout into the seventh Tuesday before Nicholas Castellanos and Jim Adduci singles set up Michael Mahtook's two-run triple off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field.
Mahtook drove in another tally with a ninth-inning single off Twins closer Trevor Hildenberger, bringing up Grayson Greiner as the potential tying run, before Hildenberger fanned Greiner for his seventh save.
Mauer's two-hit game Tuesday bumped his total to 121 career hits at Comerica Park, second-most by a visiting player. Only former White Sox great Paul Konerko (133) has more.
Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario left the game in the ninth inning with what the team called a lumbar spine spasm. Candelario felt the spasm in an at-bat earlier in the game, according to Gardenhire, then was further restricted in an eighth-inning strikeout against Twins reliever Matt Magill.
"His lower back tightened up," Gardenhire said. "He took a swing and he felt it, and then he stayed in the ballgame, said he was fine. Last at-bat, same thing, so we got him out of the ballgame. We'll check him out in the morning. Might be a couple days, hopefully. That would be the best scenario. If it's more than that, then obviously we're going to start looking around and seeing what we can do. We're already short on infielders."
HE SAID IT
"I fully expect to have a healthy offseason and do everything in my power to get ready and be healthy for next year. I have no doubt that my velocity will come back. I can feel it making its way back there. In April, I wasn't throwing very hard at all, and I'm at least able to touch 93 [mph] now. That's usually around my average, but I'm looking at baby steps. It'll be back by next year." -- Norris
Spencer Turnbull, who made his Major League debut last Friday with a perfect seventh inning in Cleveland, will get his first big league start Wednesday afternoon as the series concludes with a 1:10 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park. Turnbull, the Tigers' second-round pick in the 2014 Draft, struck out 132 batters over 118 1/3 innings in the Tigers' farm system this year. Gabriel Moya will serve as the "opener" for Minnesota.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.