Cardinals begin series against Tigers without closer
An unsettled closer situation isn’t an ideal way to make a playoff push.
A couple of blown saves by Bud Norris during the first week of the month has manager Mike Shildt going with a committee approach. Carlos Martinez secured a six-out save in a 7-6 victory over Washington on Wednesday.
“Carlos will be down for a couple of days, so here we go Jordan, here we go Bud, here we go Dominic Leone,” Shildt told mlb.com. “You want straightforward answers that I just can’t give you. I wish I could tell you, but it’s a flexibility thing. The good news is every guy in that bullpen embraces that.”
The Cardinals will play three games in Detroit, beginning Friday night, before a seven-game homestand as they try to chase down the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central.
Catcher Yadier Molina left Wednesday’s game in the eighth inning after experiencing hamstring tightness but said afterward it was a minor issue.
Rookie left-hander Austin Gomber (5-0, 2.77 ERA) will start the opener and has collected victories in four of his last five outings despite some control issues. He has walked 10 batters during that span but just one in his last two outings.
He lasted a season-high seven innings against Cincinnati on Friday, allowing two runs and 10 hits in a 12-5 win.
He held the Reds scoreless after the first inning.
“This guy is not going to give in,” Shildt said. “He’s going to bear down and make tough pitches and he did that.”
The usually light-hitting Tigers are coming off an offensive outburst in their last two games. They scored a combined 18 runs in two victories over the Chicago White Sox, including five home runs.
Their 10-2 win on Wednesday night was interrupted twice by rain.
“We just hit the ball all over the field,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We had a lot of guys with some big hits and it was just one of those nights, raining, ugly out there and somehow or another, we got hits.”
Left fielder Mikie Mahtook, who spent a majority of the season at Triple-A Toledo, homered in each of those games. Since Aug. 23, Mahtook is batting .341 with 10 runs scored, five homers and eight RBIs.
“He’s made a little adjustment with his hands, just like a couple of other guys, getting him in a better hitting position,” Gardenhire said. “He’s squaring up the ball pretty good.”
Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris will make his second major league start since recovering from groin surgery. His first start since April went well until it was cut short by a calf cramp.
Norris (0-3, 5.49 ERA) gave up just one hit, albeit a homer, in 4 1/3 innings while striking out seven against the New York Yankees on Saturday.
“My breaking balls were good and my fastball is still true and has a little life on it,” he told the Detroit News. “I’m still getting some swings and misses, even at 91 and 92 mph. I’m learning how to pitch and when the 95 mpg comes back I am going to be better for it. I feel like I can absolutely compete at this level right now.”
Norris has never faced the Cardinals.