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Giants 5, Tigers 4: Rough first inning proves costly for David Price, Tigers

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David Price was dominant through eight innings after a four-run first inning. Miguel Cabrera homered twice and Victor Martinez hit yet another home run but they were the only productive offense the Tigers could muster.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT — Three home runs and a near-complete game by David Price weren't enough as the Tigers fell 5-4 to the Giants. Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs, Victor Martinez reached a new career-high with a solo shot of his own, but early mistakes made by Price in the first inning cost the Tigers their second consecutive game.

Price (2-3 with Tigers) struggled in the first inning. Two quick outs were followed by five straight hits and four runs scored by the Giants, putting the Tigers in an early hole. After the first inning Price kept the Giants at bay with one key exception. He gave up a solo home run to Buster Posey in the fifth inning, which turned out to be the game-winning run in the end.

"With the exception of Susic — the guy that hit the double to right-center — I was OK with the pitches I was throwing," Price said. "Posey did a great job, Pence, Sandoval. They just put the bat on the ball. It stinks. I don't care if it's April 1. You don't want to go out there and pitch that way. Stinks."

Price recorded 11 strikeouts and retired 20 of the last 23 batters he faced. With one out between Price and a complete game, a routine ball was mis-handed by shortstop Eugenio Suarez and a fielding error ended Price's day still one out short of a complete game. Phil Coke replaced Price on the mound and needed just one pitch to retire Joe Panik for the final out of the ninth inning.

Saturday now marks the second straight time Price has pitched in Comerica Park and seen less than ideal results early in the game, but he doesn't believe that necessarily means he has to go back to the drawing board.

"I don't know," Price said. "I did pretty good the next 7 2/3 innings after that, and I didn't change anything up, so just execute pitches. That's all it boils down to. The name of the game."

The offense tacked 11 hits against the Giants, but the only Tigers players who did any meaningful damage against the Giants were Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Both homered and Cabrera hit two, one in the first (a two-run shot) and one in the eighth, putting the Tigers within one.

The rest of the lineup produced, but not effectively and it cost them the game. Price may have made mistakes early on, but he gave the Tigers eight dominant innings of one-run ball that the offense had full opportunity to take advantage of.

"It's great. Every time you see a hitter like Miguel (Cabrera), it's not a secret," Martinez said. "Everybody knows what kind of hitter he is. At the end, we just came up short and lost the game. It was a tough loss. Trying to come back and just falling short by one run. I always say a loss is a loss but this one was really tough."

The loss puts the Tigers 2 1/2 games behind the Royals and could be as far back as three games before the night is out if the Royals take another game from the Yankees. As ominous as that sounds, however, the Tigers see it as an opportunity instead of a danger.

There's nothing they can do about the games that have been played and they can't control the other teams in their division. Whether it's an uphill climb in every game or not and even if Saturday's game was somewhat disheartening, the season is far from over. The Tigers remain about as even-keeled as any team in the league throughout the ups and downs, so they don't see it the way most would.

"Definitely. We still have how many games left, 20-something?" Martinez remarked. "Out of those 22, we still have six games left against the team that's ahead of us. It's not a secret, we're in a tough spot right now. But you know what, turn the page, come back tomorrow and get a fresh start. Just taking it day by day, game by game and every pitch, every at-bat counts from here on. We'll see what happens."

ROARS:

David Price: After a rough first inning where Price gave up four runs on five hits, Price went deep into the game. He struck out 11 in 8 2/3 innings, giving up just four hits, one being a solo home run to Buster Posey that ultimately became the game-winning run. He took the hard-luck loss, betrayed by his offense yet again and fell one out short of a complete-game thanks to a fielding error by Eugenio Suarez.

Miguel Cabrera: Launched a two-run home run into left field, cutting an early 4-0 deficit in half. Cabrera's ankle continues to hamper him, so he got rid of it and hit the home run on one foot. On the field, Cabrera was busy pestering the opposing team, which goes to show that while his ankle may not be recovered, his humor has at least made a return. He followed up his first home run with an encore, a solo shot to left field as well.

Victor Martinez: Hit the first 30th home run of the season in his career in the third inning, a solo shot to left field. Martinez also had two singles, one in the first and one in the fifth inning. Martinez's home run was also his 19th homer batting right-handed, a new career high.

HISSES:

Eugenio Suarez: Price was one out away from pitching a complete game, but Suarez committed the forbidden fielding error, which allowed Angel Pagan to reach first base safely and ended Price's day just short of going the distance.

Tigers offense except Cabrera and V. Martinez: The Tigers got 11 hits against the Giants, but they were ill-timed and almost every hit came with two outs that the offense couldn't capitalize on.

NOTES::

Alex Avila was held out of the lineup for his fourth straight day as a precaution. Avila suffered no lingering affects on Friday and was available to play in Saturday's game, but Ausmus and Avila decided to give it one more day to allow Avila ample time to recover whether the symptoms were present or not. James McCann made his first major league start, giving Bryan Holaday a break after he caught for three straight games.

Ausmus challenged the call in the second inning that Davis was out at first base. Upon further review, the call was overturned and Davis was safe, beating out the throw. He was credited with a base hit and the review took 50 seconds. In the fourth inning, Davis attempted to steal after hitting a single and was caught stealing on a 1-3-4 play. Ausmus challenged the call but after further review, it was confirmed that Davis was out. Time of review was 1:28.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • Miguel Cabrera hit his 385th career home in the first inning, tying him with Dwight Evans for 60th in MLB history. Cabrera's second homer was also his 1,318th hit as a Tiger moving him into sole possession of 17th place in franchise history.
  • Cabrera's first inning home run was the 20th homer of the season for Cabrera, giving him 20-or-more home runs for the 11th consecutive season. It was also Cabrera's 96th RBI for the season.
  • Cabrera is one of only six players in Tigers history to record 20-or-more home runs in seven seasons with the team, joining Norm Cash (11 seasons), Al Kaline (nine seasons), Cecil Fielder (seven seasons), Rudy York (seven seasons) and Hank Greenburg (seven seasons). His streak of seven consecutive seasons with 20-or-more home runs is tied with Fielder and York for the second-longest such streak in Tigers history. Norm Cash posted nine straight seasons with 20-or-more home runs (1961-1969).
  • Victor Martinez hit his 30th home run in a single season for the first time in his career, giving him 94 RBI for the season.
  • The home runs by Cabrera gave him a six-game hitting streak. Since the start of September, Cabrera has recorded multi-hit games in all but one game and has two three-hit games. He is hitting .500/.500/1.115 with no walks and six strikeouts in that time.
  • Cabrera's second home run in the eighth inning was his second multi-homer game of the season and the 30th of his career.
  • Victor Martinez recorded three hits Saturday, giving him a seven-game hitting streak with three home runs, two doubles, seven RBI and seven walks (two intentional). Martinez is batting .480/.594/1.000 in that time and he has not struck out once.
  • For the 11th time this season, his second with the Tigers and the 25th of his career, Price struck out 10-or-more batters. The last was on August 5 when he struck out 10 against the Yankees.
  • Opposing hitters are doing damage against Price in the first inning, batting .281. Of the 91 runs scored off Price in 2014, 20 have come in the first inning (22 percent).

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

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