DETROIT — David Price was good. In a star-studded battle between two dominant Cy Young pitchers and two offensively decked-out lineups, Felix Hernandez and Price faced off for the first time and gave a performance that did not disappoint. The Tigers jumped on Hernandez first though, leading to a 4-2 win over the Mariners to regain the second wildcard spot, and come within a half-game of the Royals for first place in the AL Central.
Price allowed just three hits and only found himself in trouble during the eighth inning. Four 1-2-3 innings were key to keeping the Mariners off the basepaths and a leadoff walk in the second led nowhere. The only hit (a leadoff double) Price allowed before the seventh inning came around to score in the fourth before a two-out single in the seventh that fizzled.
"He did what he always does," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He keeps the fastball on the corners, he uses the backdoor cutter to righties, he uses it away to lefties, he mixed in a few curveballs today, used his changeup. He just does an excellent job of avoiding the middle of the plate with his pitches."
As a result of Price's ability to command and control the strike zone, Price was able to work out of a tricky bases-loaded jam in the eighth. Price struck out Austin Jackson for the second out of the inning and induced a 6-4 groundout that shut down the threat for good. While an increasing pitch count and a momentary drop in velocity prompted a visit to the mound from Ausmus, it was a visit just as short lived as the Mariners' hopes of tying the game or taking the lead.
"I've only seen David (Price) three starts now, so I wanted to get a feel for how he was doing," Ausmus said. "He made it extremely clear that he was good, and he was good, and I was happy."
Four batters into the first inning, the Tigers had back-to-back hits by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and for the remainder of the game the offense would not go quietly. The Mariners were unable to record a single 1-2-3 inning against the Tigers, and a fielder's choice in the second by Eugenio Suarez put the Tigers on board first.
A crushed home run by Nick Castellanos gave the Tigers the lead once again, breaking a 1-1 tie as the Mariners were unable to rise to the challenge. If the Tigers were looking for a way to focus on a much-needed win, facing Hernandez provided the ideal opportunity.
"You don't have to do much or say much to hitters when they're facing someone like Felix Hernandez," Ausmus said. "The fact that you're facing Felix Hernandez gives you enough concentration and focus and adrenaline, that it's just a matter of battling and hoping he leaves a pitch out over the plate that you can hit. He doesn't do that very often."
Just before the game, the Tigers were huddled in the dugout as Victor Martinez gave the team what appeared to be a pep talk, and it was clear during the game that whatever was said had done the trick. The Tigers were aggressive during every at-bat, attacking the ball like fans hadn't seen the team do in a while. While the aggressiveness also resulted in six strikeouts, no walks and two batters going hitless, making early contact and driving Hernandez's pitch count up allowed the Tigers to take the lead and stay there.
David Price: Dominated the Mariners, giving up just three hits, one run and three walks (two in the seventh). He struck out seven, including Austin Jackson in the eighth for his final strikeout of the night, which was Jackson's 100th strikeout of the season. (MLB.com video)
Eugenio Suarez: Avila hit a sharp single to right with one on to put runners at the corners. Suarez beat out the throw for what should have been an inning-ending double play, plating J.D. Martinez to strike first against the Mariners for an RBI. Suarez later had a two-out infield base hit that extended the sixth inning, and a passed ball moved him into scoring position.
Nick Castellanos: Knocked key hits for the Tigers with another big night. He untied a 1-1 game with a deep solo shot to left on the first pitch in the fourth inning, making it 2-1 in favor of the Tigers. Castellanos later reached on a fielder error by the Mariners' shortstop in the sixth inning, and drove in the final run of the night with an RBI single in the seventh. (MLB.com video)
Miguel Cabrera: Cabrera began Hernandez's night with a single to right field. Hernandez countered by drilling Cabrera in the elbow with a pitch. Cabrera stayed in the game and returned the favor in a more gracious manner, by robbing Cano of a base hit. Yes, Cabrera plays first base well. (MLB.com video)
Ian Kinsler: He was the final out for three innings, two of which had runners on base. He finished 1-5 with two strikeouts for the night.
Ezequiel Carrera: Went an eye-glazing 0-5 for the night, although he didn't strike out in any at-bat. Offensively Carrera was asleep.
Miguel Cabrera was hit on the left elbow by a pitch in the third inning. He was checked out by head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and Ausmus, and remained in the game. He wore padding on his elbow during his next at-bat but removed it soon after that with no additional concern.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was ejected in the bottom of the second inning by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo for arguing balls and strikes. McClendon and Randazzo had been chirping at each other since the first inning and Randazzo had enough, ejecting McClendon before he came out to argue further. It was McClendon's fourth ejection of the season, howbeit one of his more unspectacular ejections.
This didn't happen. Unfortunately. pic.twitter.com/5SNdFmq0Yl— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) August 16, 2014
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Nick Castellanos blasted his 10th home run of the season to left field in the fourth inning on the first pitch. Of the 10 home runs he's hit, seven have come on the first pitch.
- Miguel Cabrera's double in the seventh inning gives him 269 doubles with the Tigers. He is one double away from tying Bobby Higginson for 10th in club history. Cabrera's double was also his fourth in the span of three days, and his 40th of the season, which leads the American League.
- Victor Martinez was intentionally walked for the 21st time this season in the seventh inning, increasing his MLB lead for intentional walks.
- Castellanos knocked in his 50th RBI of the season in the seventh inning, plating V. Martinez. In the last 10 games Castellanos is hitting .367/.406/.833/1.239 with 11 hits, a double and a triple, nine RBI, and three home runs. He's walked twice and struck out seven times in that time.
- Saturday night's game had an attendance of 43,833. It was the 21st sellout crowd of the season, the sixth consecutive sellout, and the largest non-opening day crowd of the season.
- The win by the Tigers, coupled with a 4-1 loss by the Royals to the Twins moves the Tigers back into the second wildcard spot and they trail the Royals by just a half-game again. The Tigers look to take the series, and hopefully the lead in the AL Central on Sunday.
- Joe Nathan came out to close the ninth inning and allowed a run on two hits, drawing a mixed reaction by the crowd in his first appearance since his gesture to fans. However, a double play quickly ended the game, and Nathan got his 25th save of the season.
- Ian Kinsler hit a liner that hit Hernandez on the right leg in the fourth inning. Hernandez was able to remain in the game for one inning, but the Mariners removed him from the game after five innings. As the Tigers went on to win, Hernandez took the loss and ended his streak of 16 consecutive games with seven-or-more innings pitched while allowing two-or-fewer runs.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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|Commenter list||Al Beaton, AurelioFan, BadCompany22, Bent82, ChargingTiger, Grzesio, Honeyman, J_the_Man, Jacob30, JakeJustice65, Max'sFangirl, NCDee, SanDiegoMick, Singledigit, SpartanHT, Tigerdog1, Verlanderful, WhiteWinterHymnal, ahtrap, doctor hans, dominator039, frisbeepilot, inclementRain, joeytwosteps, kland83, lowandoutside, skysix, sluggonauts, subic sailor, texastigerfan|
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|5||NCDee||WHAT A GAME!|
|2||AurelioFan||Oh geez. I felt so sorry for him after I watched that play 52 times.|
|2||Max'sFangirl||In that case I feel sorry for the ball.|