DETROIT -- David Price has thrown a few shutouts before. He's pitched complete games in under 100 pitches. Never before has Price thrown a Maddux -- a complete game shutout, in less than 100 pitches. Until Friday night. Even Price didn't know it was a career-first until after the game.
"I take pride in getting 27 outs," Price said. "It's tough to do nowadays but I love it. If you can go nine innings in this game, first and foremost, that's fantastic. But to do it in under 100 pitches that's always good. I think 93 pitches is one of my lowest pitch counts of the year."
Price's motivation for an outstanding game, however, came in support of teammate Shane Greene, who was sent down to Triple-A Toledo on Friday. Greene, in attendance complete with a David Price shirsey and all, received a full showing of support, not just from Price, but from the rest of his teammates.
Prior to the game, Price had told Greene that Friday night's start was for him, and seeing Greene in the seats supporting Price and the team, told Price everything he needed to know about Greene. And it gave Price a little something extra to work towards in a start where he was nearly unhittable.
"His focus has always been good, but in the last two outings it's almost like he's turned it up a notch," Ausmus said. "We were going through that slide then he pitches the game in Chicago. And then again tonight, it was very similar. He really carries a sense of purpose onto the mound."
The efficiency that Price demonstrated on the mound was top notch. He didn't record a ball until the second inning, and in the seventh he had seven strikeouts. Price's final line of no runs on seven hits, with just one extra-base hit and no walks to eight strikeouts demonstrated how, even when he gave up a hit, never deviated from his plan. For his efforts, Price needed just 93 pitches to finish the game, 67 of which found the strike zone.
But a stellar defense contributed heavily to Price's ability to make light work of the Cleveland Indians. And the sixth-inning double play started by defensive wizard Jose Iglesias dazzled not just fans and the opposing team, but Price and his teammates, as well.
"I was just hoping for a force to second, quite frankly." manager Brad Ausmus said of the Iglesias double play. "And then it's probably, if you want to rank things, that might be the best double play I've seen turned. Ever."
More so, it gave the Tigers the momentum they needed to get on the board, highlighted by Miguel Cabrera's monster moonshot to dead center in the bottom of the same inning.
The game, while not the cleanest in terms of offense or baserunning -- Rajai Davis caught at home, Iglesias caught stealing second base, for example -- Ausmus noted it was in terms of pitching, namely because the bullpen was never called upon. Price shut out a team in back-to-back starts for just the second time in his career, and was in complete control of the pace of the game from start to finish.
And for rookie catcher James McCann, who called the game, seeing such a dominant performance from Price might have just been a once in a lifetime experience. McCann, who also tripled in the seventh inning, couldn't believe what Price was able to do on the mound.
"It might be one of my most memorable games in my career," McCann said. "When you look up at the board, and going into the ninth inning, (Price) hasn't even thrown 90 pitches, it's unbelievable. ... "One of the things I've noticed is that he's just been down (in the zone). When he has gone up, it's been on purpose. He's locating on his glove side, in to righties and away to lefties. He's been spot-on there."
Friday night's game wasn't just about a win, and supporting Greene was only part of the equation. The fans were louder. The game was a little brighter. The dazzling defense and massive show of offense from one of the best hitters in the game showed up in support, but it was Price who starred in the show.
What he's done lately has been beyond impressive, and every time he takes the mound, Price gives the Tigers more than a good chance at a win. With rare exceptions, he guarantees it.
"Every year I'm kind of a slow starter, I feel like it takes me a couple starts to get going," Price said. "And this year I started off better than any other year I really have. I had the game against the Yankees that didn't go well, but it's a process and I've stuck with it. Started to throw the ball a lot better over my last four starts and I'm starting to feel like I should. Just gotta keep it rolling."