KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Detroit Tigers are stumbling to the finish line. The Kansas City Royals intend to keep it that way for at least one more night.
The Tigers, who have lost nine straight, face the Royals on Thursday in the finale of a three-game series. A win would keep the Royals on track for a winning season, which they can achieve only by winning out.
The previous time the Tigers lost nine consecutive games was Sept. 1-9, 2005, and a loss Thursday would produce Detroit’s first double-digit losing streak since Aug. 13-23, 2003.
“It’s not fun,” said outfielder Alex Presley, who had three hits and walked in the Tigers’ 7-4 loss to the Royals on Wednesday. “Winning makes everything more fun, obviously, but you’ve got to try to keep your head together, like I said. Play like it’s tied, no matter what the score.
“Don’t give away at-bats. Keep grinding and finish strong. We play to win, even if things aren’t looking good, still play to win and everything else will just kind of iron itself out for you.”
The Tigers will start left-hander Daniel Norris in the series finale. Norris is 4-8 with a 5.59 ERA in 21 games (17 starts) this season for Detroit. He went 0-4 with a 12.21 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Toledo.
“He’s a perfectionist,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He wants every pitch he throws to be the nastiest he’s ever thrown.”
In his latest start, Norris gave up five runs on seven hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday.
Norris will be making his seventh career start against Kansas City. He is 0-2 with a 4.78 ERA against the Royals, striking out 23 in 32 innings. He is 0-1 with an 8.33 ERA in two appearances this year against the Royals. Norris is 0-0 with a 4.67 ERA in three career starts at Kauffman Stadium, fanning 13 in 17 1/3 innings.
Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar has a .571 average (8-for-14) with a home run and three RBIs against Norris. Alex Gordon…