Detroit — Just like Spencer Turnbull learned it the night before, Tigers starting pitcher Daniel Norris experienced it Thursday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays, with their sneaky effective lineup, are patient at the plate and force a young pitcher, particularly, to work to get hitters out.
Norris learned that lesson just a bit too late in Thursday’s 6-1 loss.
“(I was) sort of trying to be too fine, make good pitches but they weren’t offering,” Norris said of his early struggles. “It kind of took the home run to make me realize I have to attack and come right after them.
“It brought to life my heater, and finished strong.”
The Rays’ Travis d’Arnaud hit the first of his two two-run home runs in the fourth inning, this one off Norris and giving the Rays a 3-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The bomb — it went 420-feet — woke up Norris in some ways.
“I channeled back to more of an attack mode,” Norris said.
Norris lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and three earned runs and one walk, while striking out six.
It wasn’t entirely without flaws, but Norris certainly gave the Tigers a chance to get even, which is all they ask these days.
“Our starter did fine, Daniel did fine,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He gave us a chance. They nicked him here and there but his pitches were good against a good hitting team. They made him work. He hung in there pretty darn good.”
Gardenhire talked about how the Rays are a difficult team for a pitcher to face.
“This team, two days in a row with our young pitchers, they made him (Norris) work and throw a lot of pitches,” Gardenhire said. “They make your pitch count go up, they take a lot of pitches. He made pitches when he had to.
“Strike one is real important, and getting ahead of the count. Make quality pitches close enough to the zone where you make them chase, but if you leave them over the plate they’ll kill you because they can hit. He (Norris) did a nice job, he kept us in the game, and we didn’t take advantage of it offensively.”
Norris fell to 2-5 on the season, but insists there has been progress lately.
“Steady progress forward,” Norris said. “Taking steps forward. (Thursday) was good, making an adjustment (after the home run allowed) and finishing strong.”
Miguel Cabrera wasn’t in the starting lineup Thursday but Gardenhire said he was available to pinch hit, though the opportunity never materialized.
Cabrera was diagnosed with an arthritic knee earlier in the week and will transition to a designated hitter for the remainder of the season.
Having a day game Thursday, after a night game, might have played a role in sitting Cabrera, too.
“He was available,” Gardenhire said. “If I could have gotten the right situation where they didn’t pitch around him, if we were within a couple runs, but we weren’t going to stick him out there (otherwise).
“He did some swings in the cage and everything felt pretty good. It was one of those days where he was ready to come off the bench if we had gotten into a situation.”
Around the horn
Reliever Austin Adams struck out two of the three hitters he faced Thursday, in a promising outing. The Tigers claimed Adams off waivers from Minnesota last week.
“Anytime someone gives you the chance and lets you continue to throw the baseball, it’s an incredible feeling,” Adams said. “I just go out there and continue to attack batters. Just throw what feels good and what feels right in situations.”
… JaCoby Jones singled his first time at bat Thursday, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.
… Gardenhire is pleased with the versatility infielder Harold Castro provides, and the fact Castro hits left-handed is extremely valuable.
“We don’t have lefties,” Gardenhire said. “He was bringing the bat well in Toledo, so bring him up. He’ll be fine. He can do some things, pinch hit off the bench, play around the infield. He has the hands to swing it.”
On deck: Twins
Series: Three games at Comerica Park.
First pitch: Friday, 7:10 p.m., Saturday, 4:10 p.m., Sunday, 1:10 p.m
TV/radio: All three games on FSD/97.1 FM
Probables:Friday — TBA vs. LHP Matthew Boyd (5-4, 3.01); Saturday — RHP Kyle Gibson (6-2, 3.75) vs.TBA; Sunday — Jake Odorizzi (8-2, 1.96) vs. LHP Ryan Carpenter (1-2, 6.23).
Matthew Boyd, Tigers: Boyd will make his 14th start of the season and 100th of his career. Sunday in Atlanta, Boyd allowed three runs and five hits while striking out nine Braves in five innings, in a no-decision. Boyd ranks tied for second in the American League with nine quality starts.