DETROIT — With a lights-out David Price on the mound, a dominant bullpen and perfect offensive timing, the Detroit Tigers clinched their fourth consecutive American League Central Division Championship for the first time in franchise history. The Tigers shut out the Twins 3–0, splitting the series and finishing the regular season with a 90–72 record.
Price (W, 4–4 with the Tigers) was nearly perfect in his final start of the 2014 season, giving the Tigers 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball. He gave up just four hits and walked two, striking out eight to give him the MLB strikeout title over Indians' Corey Kluber. Price gave up just one extra-base hit, a double in the fifth inning that Price was able to pitch around.
Joba Chamberlain relieved Price in the eighth, who departed to a loud standing ovation from a sold-out Comerica Crowd and a tip of the cap. Chamberlain retired the last two batters of the eighth inning on 10 pitches, seven of which were strikes. On three days rest, Tigers closer, Joe Nathan, pitched a strong 1-2-3 ninth inning. With a roaring crowd on its feet, Nathan finished off the Twins on 17 pitches and earned his 35th save of the season.
"Kansas City has played extremely well this last week and really pushed us to the limit, we were at the last game of the season," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think ultimately the guys we have, they've been through this, there wasn't panic, they weren't stressing."
Twins starter Kyle Gibson matched Price in strikeouts through five innings, holding the Tigers to just three hits including a home run hit by Ian Kinsler in the third inning, and a walk. Gibson had a low pitch count deep into the game, contrary to that of Price's, but the Tigers were lying in wait for Gibson in the eighth inning.
Back-to-back walks by Andrew Romine and Ezequiel Carrera, coupled with a steal by Romine, put two on for Ian Kinsler. An RBI single by Kinsler and a sacrifice fly by Torii Hunter gave the Tigers their final score, securing victory.
"It's impossible to describe," Kinsler said. "A lot of hard work put into it, from every single one of these guys to get to this point. Been a battle of a season, just a bunch of tough games all year. Falling out of first, getting back into first. We just tried to keep our heads on, continue to work hard."
"We're in, we're in."
Ian Kinsler: A no-doubt solo home run into the home dugout in left field in the third inning, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead over the Twins. He also hit an RBI single in the eighth, scoring Romine from second base, finishing 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. As usual, his defense was superb. (MLB.com video)
David Price: He handed the Tigers a dominant 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball. He allowed just four hits and struck out eight, walking two. Perfection when it was needed the most.
Tigers offense: They were quiet for much of the game, but they got the key hits when it mattered. There was no room for error at any point in the game and the offense capitalized on mistakes made by Gibson. Notably in the eighth, Romine and Carrera drew back-to-back walks with a steal by Romine, and Kinsler hit an RBI single that Hunter followed up with a sacrifice fly. They would need no more than that.
Brad Ausmus: Pulled Price when needed and put a dominant Chamberlain and Nathan in to close it out.
Bullpen: Chamberlain and Nathan sent the Twins back to Minnesota without a hit in their 1 2/3 innings of work. As it should be, there were no shenanigans present at any point in the game and the bullpen made sure of it.
None, missing in action, disappeared, finished, never to return for the season. The Hiss Department is closed for the afternoon.
Rajai Davis underwent an MRI Saturday night after sustaining a strain to his pelvic cartilage. Results came back negative, however, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand is not ready to list Davis as day-to-day. Davis believes he will be ready to return to the lineup in time for game one of the ALDS, which is scheduled for Thursday.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Ian Kinsler's home run in the third inning gave him 100 runs scored in a season for the fifth time in his career, and first time since 2012, when he scored 105 with the Texas Rangers. He finished 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
- David Price became the 2014 MLB strikeout champion with his strikeout of Oswaldo Arcia in the sixth inning. The strikeout was his 270th of the season, passing Indians' Corey Kluber for the lead. Price finished with 271 strikeouts for the season, becoming just the fifth Tiger in franchise history to do so, joining Justin Verlander, Mickey Lolich, Virgil Trucks, and Hal Newhouser. Price also finished the season leading the American League with 248 1/3 innings-pitched.
- This season's attendance of 2,917,209 is the fifth-largest single season total in the 114 year history of the Tigers. Sunday's attendance of 40,501 was the 27th sellout of the year.
- The Tigers have advanced to the postseason for the fourth straight season for the first time in franchise history. The Tigers' four straight AL Central Division crowns are the most since the Cleveland Indians won five straight from 1995-1999. It is also the first time the Tigers have clinched their division at home since 1987.
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