August 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tigers 4, Yankees 3 (12 innings)

Alex Avila supplies heroics in David Price's Tigers debut

New York — He didn’t win, he didn’t lose, but it was David Price making his Tigers’ debut — so he was the big story.

No matter what.

Around him, though, swam a lot of smaller, but hugely important stories in the Tigers’ 4-3 victory in 12 innings over the Yankees on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium

It was an emotional enough game for them to make a heckuva lot of clubhouse noise after the final out.

And there were so many facets to the game that you would know where to start if you didn’t start with the starter.

* Joba Chamberlain hitting Derek Jeter with a pitch and saying it’s the worst he’s ever felt.

“I was a little worried about him being amped up pitching against his old mates in New York,” manager Brad Ausmus said.

* Torii Hunter’s X-rays of his left hand coming back negative when it was feared the pitch that hit him might have broken the hand.

“The stereotypical day-to-day,” Ausmus said. “But I was (worried) it might be an end-of-the-season type injury.”

“I couldn’t feel anything, there was so much pain,” Hunter said. “I thought it was broken.”

* The Tigers getting home runs from both Andrew Romine and Alex Avila, with Avila’s coming in the top of the 12th as the winner.

“Just a hair off the end of my bat,” Romine said of the ball he hit, “but I got it enough.”

* Avila’s single in the seventh being the hit that tied it.

“The single was big,” said Ausmus, “but obviously the home run was huge.”

* Victor Martinez stealing second in the 11th without Ausmus even knowing he was going.

“That was Omar Vizquel and Victor in cahoots,” Ausmus said. “I’ve given Omar liberty if he sees something.”

“I just run and hope I get there safe,” said Martinez.

* Joe Nathan registering a 1-2-3 save — but not without Ausmus saying “I held my breath on (Chase) Headley’s ball to deep right. It sounded solid, but it stayed in the park.”

Much more than just Price starting.

But it all began with Price because of what a major addition he is to the rotation, and because of how much he wanted to get over the hurdle of his Tigers’ debut and feel he’s contributed.

Price allowed three runs on eight hits in 823 innings. He didn’t walk anyone, and struck out 10.

The two home runs he allowed, however — to Brian McCann and Martin Prado — almost put the Tigers in a hole from which they didn’t climb. But with Romine’s home run in the sixth and Avila’s RBI single in the seventh they did.

“There are days when it looks like he’s turning the corner,” Ausmus said of Avila. “I hope he’s turning the corner now.”

The corner needing to be turned is that after his first two at-bats in this game, Avila was hitting .143 since the All-Star break.

When describing the way Price pitched, Ausmus said “like he did in Tampa, but with a Tigers uniform on. He was calm, he was methodical and he got outs.”

Price was happy the game ended the way it did, of course, but he would have been relieved no matter what about pitching well in his first start as a Tiger.

“I hope that’s what we can expect,” he said, referring to his effective change-up. “That pitch has come a long way for me. It’s opened a lot of doors.

“But I’m constantly trying to switch things up — so I’m doing things differently, not finishing guys off the same way. Alex put down some really good fingers tonight,”

More than once, though, Price has said he just wants to get over the feeling of being new, however.

“It was a little weird, absolutely. It probably helped facing a team I’ve faced multiple times. But it definitely felt weird wearing the Tigers’ uniform for the first time.

“It feels good that it’s over,” he said. “Helping these guys win a game, I feel a lot better about everything right now.”

The Tigers felt good, too.

Despite Chamberlain kicking himself about hitting Jeter with a pitch. . .

“He looked right at me,” Chamberlain said of his friend and former teammate. “I felt awful about it.”

Despite Hunter feeling fortunate his left hand isn’t broken, but not knowing when he’ll be able to play again. . .

“Waiting for X-ray results is the worst,” he said.

And despite Ausmus pinch-running for Martinez, who had just stolen second.

“Probably the first time that’s happened to anyone not getting hurt on a steal,” Ausmus said.

But it ended well for them, all the same.

The start, the steal, the game.

Around the horn

Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks, on a rehab assignment at Single A West Michigan, exited Tuesday’s game at Lake County after feeling something grab in one of his hamstrings, the team said.

No other details were available on Dirks, who has had a couple of setbacks following back surgery that has kept him out the entire season.

tom.gage@detroitnews.com
twitter.com/Tom_Gage

Tigers starting pitcher David Price reacts after allowing a second-inning solo home run to the Yankees' Brian McCann on Tuesday night in New York. / Kathy Willens / Associated Press