DETROIT -- Daniel Norris looked like he had cleared his big inning on Tuesday, the inning that always seems to doom him.Norris needed 30 pitches in the third, which included three walks and a pickoff, to get out of it. But when Nicholas Castellanos knocked down Jose Pujols' grounder and
DETROIT -- Daniel Norris looked like he had cleared his big inning on Tuesday, the inning that always seems to doom him.
Norris needed 30 pitches in the third, which included three walks and a pickoff, to get out of it. But when Nicholas Castellanos knocked down Jose Pujols' grounder and threw him out at first to strand two runners, Norris seemingly had survived his long inning unscathed.
Then came the first two batters of the fourth. Yunel Escobar doubled to the center-field wall, and C.J. Cron homered to the left-field seats. Norris hit a speed bump on his way to a 5-3 Tigers loss at Comerica Park.
"That's the thing," Norris said. "You have to bear down and make pitches."
Norris retired nine of his final 11 hitters from there, allowing an unearned run on an Alex Presley error but striking out five in that stretch and salvaging a quality start. But in the end, he didn't take much solace in a defeat.
"It's hard to explain, but there's just a string of a few batters every start where right at the end of my delivery, I lock up," Norris explained. "It's like I'm thinking too much to try to throw a strike. Instead, towards the end of the game, I was just letting the ball go, and that's when I get swing and misses. That's when I'm filling the [strike] zone up better, attacking hitters.
"When I start thinking too much is when I get into that. If you notice my tempo, it's, 'Get the ball, get back on the rubber.' It was night-and-day difference in the fifth and sixth than it was in the third and fourth."
Or as Norris summarized, "It's almost like it took something to [tick] me off. I just need to find a way to do that from pitch one."
It's a recurring theme in Norris' starts. He's winless in his last six starts since tossing six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts against the Indians on May 1. Five of those outings, including Tuesday, have consisted of an inning of 29 or more pitches, as have seven of his 11 starts this season.
Tuesday was just the second time in six starts Norris finished six innings, but he needed 110 pitches -- his second-highest total in a game in his career.
As frustrating as it is, the Tigers have to exercise patience and give Norris time to grow. They had another young, mercurial lefty a few years ago who struggled in a shorter stint before being traded, and the Tigers now have to watch Robbie Ray blossom with the D-backs. They'll be patient with Norris.
"He'll tend to miss location on some pitches, and that's what hurts him," catcher Alex Avila said, "but he has great stuff. It's pretty obvious to see. It's just a matter of honing it in."
The Escobar double was a hanging changeup, lined over Presley's head with a 107.4-mph exit velocity according to Statcast™. Cron's homer was a slider that hung enough for Cron to hit at 105.3 mph.
"It wasn't like a get-me-over slider. I threw it hard and I let it go and he kind of ripped on it," Norris said. "He was just obviously looking for it. More of a strike slider and he got to it. Can't do that on 1-2 [counts]."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.