INDIANS (78-55) AT TIGERS (39-91)
1:10 p.m. ET; FS-D, ST-OH, MLB.TV
Daniel Norris hasn’t given up a run in his last two starts. Of course, it’s a little easier to do that on a strict innings limit.
Norris hasn’t pitched longer than three innings in his last three starts, and he’s unlikely to exceed that total for the remainder of the season. The Detroit Tigers want the left-hander to finish the season healthy after struggling through injuries most of his major league career.
Norris will make his 24th start of the season when the Tigers host the Cleveland Indians in a Thursday matinee.
Norris appeared in just 47 major league games the previous three seasons, including 11 a year ago. He’ll be making his 27th appearance this season.
“We aren’t being ordered to do this or anything like that,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Detroit News. “It’s just an organizational philosophy that we happen to agree with. We’re only going to let him go a certain percentage of innings above what he pitched last year. We’re just looking out for the player, doing what’s best for him long-term.”
Norris (3-10, 4.70 ERA) won’t qualify for another victory under those circumstances. He wishes the restrictions would be eased, but he understands the concerns.
“In my head, I’m going in like maybe he will surprise me and let me go five,” Norris said to the News. “It’s wishful thinking, I know. I try to avoid Andy (pitching coach Rick Anderson) after the third inning now.”
Norris is 3-2 with a 4.87 ERA in 10 career outings against the Indians, including seven starts. He’s 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA in two starts this season.
The Indians will go with right-hander Mike Clevinger (9-2, 3.00). He’s 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 career appearances, including nine starts, against Detroit.
Clevinger has posted an 8-0 record with two no-decisions in his last 10 starts. He hasn’t been tagged with a loss since June 28, when he gave up seven runs to Baltimore.
In his last start, Clevinger went 5 2/3 innings and held Kansas City to one run and four hits while recording eight strikeouts.
“That was probably his best breaking ball we’ve seen,” manager Terry Francona said to Cleveland.com afterward. “In the middle innings, he almost felt too good. Then he ended up throwing a ton of pitches, but his stuff was phenomenal.”
Cleveland has won the first two games of the series and 14 of 15 against the Tigers this season.
The Indians are trying to hang on to a playoff spot without third baseman Jose Ramirez, who underwent hand surgery on Monday.
Mike Freeman started at third base on Tuesday and had one run scored and one RBI in Cleveland’s 10-1 victory. Yu Chang played third on Wednesday and went 0-for-4.
“He’s an all-around great player and he plays every day,” Francona said of Ramirez. “So you miss that. It’s nice when you have guys where you just put their name in the lineup and let them go play and stay out of the way.”
Second baseman Jason Kipnis isn’t in any rush to leave Detroit. He’s hit three homers during the first two games of the series.
–Field Level Media