Keller gets the start as Royals go for series split
Norris will have two more shots at that, including the finale of a four-game series against Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. The game will also be Detroit’s home finale.
Norris (0-5, 5.71 ERA) held Minnesota scoreless for five innings Tuesday before coming out in the sixth after allowing two runs. He spent much of the season on the disabled list after undergoing groin surgery.
“I felt I located my fastball. I changed speeds, and I was spinning my curveball pretty well,” Norris told the Detroit News afterward. “I got a little tired there in the sixth, leaving the ball up. But I didn’t want to come out.”
The Tigers hope that Norris can get a little boost of confidence heading into the offseason and claim a rotation spot next spring. He was regarded as one of the majors’ top pitching prospects when he was acquired in 2015 during a trade deadline swap with Toronto.
Injuries have prevented Norris from fulfilling that potential and he’s still trying to regain his fastball velocity. He has been throwing fastballs in the low 90s after reaching the mid-90s earlier in his career.
His outing Sunday will be his fifth start since being activated.
“I like the way he competes. I like his stuff,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com. “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 is 1-2 with a 3.89 ERA in eight career starts against Kansas City.
He’ll be opposed by rookie right-hander Brad Keller (8-6, 3.17 ERA), who has won four of his last five decisions. He wound up with a no-decision Monday after surrendering four runs and 10 hits in six innings at Pittsburgh, though he also struck out seven.
“I obviously didn’t have my best command today, especially early on,” Keller told MLB.com afterward. “But the changeup started to come on late, so I tried to roll with that. I felt like I had a few more innings, and then that seventh inning — base hit up the middle and then kind of a cheap hit right there got me out of that game. But definitely a grind one.”
The Tigers haven’t seen him since he was moved into the rotation in late May. He made four relief appearances against them prior to that, going 0-1 while allowing one run in a combined three innings.
The Royals will be going for the series split. The Tigers won games Thursday and Saturday and the Royals took Friday night’s matchup.
Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez closed out his career with an infield single in the Tigers’ 5-4 win Saturday. Martinez, 39, announced Friday that Saturday’s game would be his last.
Tigers second baseman Niko Goodrum returned to the lineup after being sidelined since Sept. 12 with a quad contusion. He had three hits, a run scored and two RBIs.