Detroit Tigers utility infielder Danny Worth took to the mound and pitched a scoreless ninth inning Thursday afternoon, striking out two as the Tigers dropped their fourth straight game in a 9-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Worth has impressed his teammates when playing catch with his knuckleball. Reigning American League Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer, who Worth said has been begging him to come to the bullpen and practice the pitch according to tigers.com
Worth gave up one hit. When asked about it after the game, he said “I shouldn’t have thrown that heater.”
Yu Darvish improved his record to 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA, pitching seven strong innings, giving up six hits, striking out six and walking three. The Rangers have won all four road games he has started.
Chris Gimenez had four hits and Shin-Soo Choo homered to lead Texas.
Robbie Ray (1-1), making his third MLB start, lasted just 3 1/3 innings. He allowed seven runs, nine hits and four walks. The first 18 of 27 Rangers batters reached base. The AL Central leading Tigers have a 4 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins.
Worth and his knuckleball were the talk of the Detroit clubhouse after the game. He pitched for the first time since summer league in high school.
“There had been some discussions about it,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus when asked about using Worth in relief. “In the fifth inning, I asked him if he had his pitching spikes with him today.”
“I wasn’t surprised only because I’ve seen him throw it before,” Ausmus said. “It moves quite a bit. I imagine if he was a little more comfortable with pitching, he might even be more consistent.”
“Just throwing a ‘pen every once in a while might alleviate that,” Ausmus said, having Worth throw every two weeks in the bullpen in case Worth is needed “on a very part time basis.”
When Worth was warming up, Joba Chamberlain said the relievers were watching every one of his pitches. “It (knuckleball) was better in the bullpen than it was in the game,” he said.
Worth struck out Michael Choice swinging and Leonys Martin looking to end the ninth.
Worth was asked if might consider trying to make it as a knucklballer and he didn’t rule it out MLB.com reported. He said he has been working on it since he was 10 years old. He said he would pitch again if needed.
“Hopefully not though, I wish I was wasn’t out there. I wish we were ahead, but It was a blast,” he said.
As Worth walked to the dugout after the inning, Tigers starting pitchers Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Annibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello clapped their approval.
Worth became the firs Detroit position-player to pitch in a game since Don Kelly in June, 2011.
[Image via motorcitybengals.com]