David Price impresses, but doesn't earn a decision in Tigers debut
David Price was outstanding in his Tigers debut Tuesday night, but despite pitching 8 2/3 innings and striking out 10 men against no walks, he earned a no-decision in the Tigers’ 4-3, 12-inning win over the Yankees. As was the case on Monday night, when the Yankees won 2-1 in a game started by Detroit’s Max Scherzer, the Yankee pitching negated a former Cy Young award winner while the Yankee bats did just enough to make that performance count. The Tigers’ acquisition of Price last Thursday has been highlighted for making them the first team in major league history to boast the last three Cy Young award winners, but the Yankees, the first team to face those three men in a series — Scherzer, Price, and, on Wednesday night, Justin Verlander — haven’t succumbed to the pressure yet.
On Monday night it was the Yankees’ own July addition, Brandon McCarthy, along with four relievers — including since-departed lefty Matt Thornton (now a National) — who held the Tigers to a lone unearned run, making the pair of third-inning runs the Yankees scratched out against Scherzer stand up for the win. On Tuesday night, it was Hiroki Kuroda who matched Price for seven innings until the Yankee bullpen took over and eventually forced extra innings. One of the game's finest highlights came from rookie Dellin Betances, whose stirring confrontation with Miguel Cabrera ended with the slugger swinging through a perfectly-placed 100 mile-per-hour fastball on the outside corner.
Again, the Yankee bats did just enough against Price, who was outstanding by virtually any measure, but gave up three big hits, each of which led to a run. The first was a line-drive home run to right field by Brian McCann that tied the game at 1 with one out in the bottom of the second inning. McCann entered the game having gone 4-for-8 with two home runs against fellow lefty Price in his career, and suggested that success was more than a small-sample fluke in his first at-bat, though Price retired him in their next three confrontations (so McCann is now merely 5-for-12 with three home runs against Price). The second was a double over the head of left fielder J.D Martinez by Yankee second baseman Brendan Ryan on Price’s first pitch of the third inning. Ryan later scored on well-placed double by Jacoby Ellsbury to make it 2-1 Yankees. The third was a home run by another deadline addition, right fielder Martin Prado, leading off the bottom of the fifth that gave New York a 3-1 lead.
Derek Jeter singled later in the fifth inning, after which the Yankees managed just one more hit off Price in his final 3 2/3 innings of work. That hit came on a ground ball to third base that might have been an out if the Tigers weren’t playing a no-doubles defense, but instead hit off the wrist of a diving Nick Castellanos and bounded over the head of shortstop Andrew Romine allowing Prado to race into second for with a double.
In many ways, that performance was a snapshot of Price’s 2014 season. Price leads the majors in innings pitched and innings per start, in strikeouts, and is fourth in the majors in strikeout-to-walk ratio, but his home run rate has been inflated, and his three runs in 8 2/3 innings Tuesday night translates to an ERA of 3.12. His ERA coming into the game was 3.11. That said, Price actually reduced his home run rate in July, allowing just three round-trippers in 46 2/3 innings across six starts and allowed just one home run in two previous starts at the homer-friendly new Yankee Stadium this year (to McCann). The last time he allowed two home runs in a game he was actually pitching against the Tigers on July 6. That was also the last time he pitched exactly 8 2/3 innings.
For their part, the Tigers tied the game on a Romine home run off Kuroda in the sixth and a trio of singles that produced the tying run in the seventh. Romine was only starting because Eugenio Suarez hurt his left knee stealing second base in Monday’s game. The homer was Romine’s second of the season. Alex Avila singled to drive in the tying run in the seventh before ultimately deciding the game with a solo home run off Yankee reliever Matt Daley in the top of the 12th. Joe Nathan worked a perfect bottom of the inning to earn his 23rd save of the year.
One other item of note: in the top of the ninth inning, Torii Hunter was hit in left wrist by a Betances pitch and immediately left the game in obvious pain. His X-rays were negative and he’s been diagnosed with nothing more than a contusion. Still, he was hit hard and directly. Given his hot hitting (.317/.379/.558 since July 1), the Tigers will have hope that the injury won’t hurt his swing even if doesn’t impact his availability.