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Seattle 3, Detroit 2: Norris sharp in tough loss

Why times through the order is more important than pitch counts

Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

The Tigers dropped their fourth game in a row, and their 12th in 13 tries to the Mariners on Friday night at T-Mobile stadium in Seattle.

Yusei Kikuchi took the mound for the Mariners in his first appearance against Detroit, and promptly retired the Tigers on six pitches in the top of the first inning. Daniel Norris got the start for Detroit, having allowed 20 earned runs in his last four starts. Mallex Smith led off the first inning for the Mariners with a single up the middle, but was caught stealing. After JP Crawford grounded out to first base, Tim Beckham, who hit a grand slam the previous night, singled up the middle, but was stranded when Dan Vogelbach flied out to center field.

After Nick Castellanos grounded out to start the second inning, Brandon Dixon blasted his team-leading 13th home run into the left field seats to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. The Mariners have either hit or allowed a home run in all 107 games that they’ve played this season.

Tom Murphy led off the bottom of the frame with a double to left field, but was left stranded when Norris struck out Kyle Seager, Austin Nola and Kristopher Negron to preserve the Tigers’ lead.

John Hicks led off the third inning with his seventh home run of the season, his second in as many nights, to make it 2-0 Detroit. Kikuchi retired the next three Tigers to limit the damage. Norris set down the Mariners in order in the third inning to keep the score 2-0.

Miguel Cabrera began the fourth inning with a base hit to right field. After Castellanos struck out, Dixon lined a one hopper to first which resulted in a double play as Cabrera was tagged out returning to the base. Norris issued a leadoff walk to Beckham in the bottom of the fourth, but got Vogelback to fly out to center field, then struck out Murphy and got Seager on a pop fly to short stop to end the inning.

Jeimer Candelario led off the fifth inning with a single to right field and Niko Goodrum bounced a single up the middle to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Hicks lined a fly ball to center field that looked like it was going to drop in but Mallex Smith made a shoestring catch and doubled Candelario off second base. Jordy Mercer singled through the hole, moving Goodrum to second. Jacoby Jones grounded out to shortstop to end the threat after three singles, but no runs.

Norris again set the Mariners down in order in the fifth inning, racking up his fifth and sixth strikeouts of the game.

Kikuchi retired the Tigers in order in the bottom of the frame, including his second strikeout — Miguel Cabrera.

Norris struck out Smith, got Crawford on a comebacker to the mound, and struck out Beckham, preserving a 2-0 lead for the Tigers after six innings.

Kikuchi struck out Dixon and Candelario to start the seventh inning before Goodrum lined a triple into the gap in left-center field to knock the Seattle starter out of the game. Matt Wisler came on in relief for the Mariners and struck out Hicks to end the threat.

Kikuchi finished with a line of 6-2/3 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 7 hits without a walk and 4 strikeouts.

Vogelbach led off the Seattle half of the seventh with a double into right center field, but Ron Gardenhire was counting pitches instead of times through the order. Norris had allowed no hits and just one walk after a leadoff double in the second inning and struck out eight Mariners. So of course, they stayed with him too long and Tom Murphy hit a two run homer to left field to tie the game at 2-2. Kyle Seager popped out on Norris’s 100th pitch, and Gardenhire emerged from the dugout to remove him.

Norris went 6-1/3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, one walk and 8 strikeouts for the Tigers.

Buck Farmer relieved Norris with one out in the seventh inning and gave up a single to Negron, who stole second. Dylan Moore walked to put two on with two outs. Farmer then hit Smith on a 2-2 pitch to load the bases. Gardenhire then summoned Nick Ramirez to face the lefty hitting Crawford, who flew out to Jones in center field to leave the bases loaded.

Farmer has not allowed a run since before the All Star break, and has not given up a home run since June 4th, a span of 18 appearances.

Anthony Bass, who hails from Dearborn, Michigan, took the mound for the Mariners in the eighth inning. Mercer led off the inning with a single to left. Bass struck out Jones, Harold Castro, and Cabrera to strand the runner.

Joe Jimenez took over for the Tigers in the bottom of the eighth and retired the side in order. That’s JJ’s seventh scoreless outing in eight appearances, the other being a four run shellacking against the Indians.

Roenis Elias, who has been closing games for the Mariners, came on in relief in the top of the ninth inning. He retired Castellanos, Dixon and Candelario in order. The third out was a web gem as Crawford went deep into the hole and threw leaping and off balance to get Candelario.

Jose Cisnero took over for Jimenez in the bottom of the ninth. Seager led off with a seeing eye single through the hole and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nola. After Negron was intentionally walked, Ryan Court, making his major league debut, pinch hit for Moore with the potential winning run on second and one out. He hit a hard liner to left field for the second out. A wild pitched moved up the runners to second and third. Mallex Smith singled in the winning run. Final score Seattle 3, Detroit 2.

The Mariners have won 12 of the last 13 games against the Tigers, who have now dropped 22 of their last 23 games against American league western division opponents.