The Detroit Tigers are on the clock.
With their 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday, Detroit clinched their second first-overall pick in the MLB Draft in the past three years. Commence your Spencer Torkelson, Emerson Hancock, Tua Tagovailoa, and LaMelo Ball discussions!
Despite the score, the NorHagen piggyback experiment ended their run on a high note. Daniel Norris and Drew VerHagen combined to pitch seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits with six strikeouts.
Norris was especially impressive, throwing three innings, allowing two hits while striking out five.
VerHagen followed with three strong innings of his own — then the seventh arrived.
After issuing a lead-off walk to Miguel Sano, Luis Arraez took a hanging slider halfway up the right field seats to give his Twins the lead. VerHagen was replaced by John Schrieber in the eighth after surrendering a one-out triple to Jorge Polanco, who scored on a Nelson Cruz single. Eddie Rosario’s two-run home run that same inning furthered the Twins’ lead.
Wednesday marked the second consecutive night in which the Tigers took a one-run lead into the seventh inning only for Minnesota to score five-plus runs in the latter three frames. The Tigers’ offense was equally anemic as Tuesday, reaching base only four times with two errors and two doubles.
The USPBL transplant dominated at Comerica Park — a 30 minute drive directly south from Utica’s Jimmy John’s Field — throwing six one-hit innings with zero earned runs (one unearned), zero walks, and six strikeouts.
The win brings Minnesota’s magic number to one and, should the White Sox hold their current (as of this game’s conclusion) lead over Cleveland, they will be celebrating their first AL Central championship since 2010 in Detroit.
Wednesday was Norris’ fourth consecutive three-frame outing in which he allowed one earned run or fewer. It is his sixth such start in nine outings, including four shutouts.
With the AL Central all but decided and draft position secured, there are not many more story lines for Tigers fans to monitor in the final weekend of the regular season. Do not mistake that for meaningless baseball, though.
Now at 46-111, the franchise’s second-worst season of all time continue to separate itself from the rest of the pack. At least it won’t catch up to 2003, right?