Tigers’ David Price, Alex Avila finding their groove together

By Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It’s not quite there yet, but it’s coming.

Saturday was just the third time Alex Avila caught and called a game with David Price. The two seemed to be in sync — Price allowed just a run and three hits through eight innings — but as they walked off the field together they agreed there is room for improvement.

“Yeah, we can get better,” Avila said. “Sometimes in the game I am not sure what he wants to do at certain points. That’s going to take games and take some starts to get to the point where I am kind of in his head.

“I think we’re going to get better at that.”

Price on Saturday was commanding all four different pitches, and the task for Avila was to make sure the sequences didn’t get too predictable.

“He’s got four really good pitches and a lot of movement,” Avila said. “He’s able to get strikeouts when he needs them and ground balls when he needs them. And all of his pitches can do one or the other just because of the movement and velocity.”

Case in point was the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, and the Tigers up 4-1, Price went for the strikeout against former Tiger Austin Jackson. Price got ahead of him with well-placed cutters on the outside of the plate. Jackson fought off a couple of fastballs, then had a weak swing at a 2-2 slider.

“That was big, absolutely,” Price said. “A hit scores two and a home run, obviously, puts us down a run. That could have changed the entire night for us. That was a big strikeout.”

He got the next hitter, Dustin Ackley, to ground out to shortstop.

“It was an impressive performance, but that’s what you expect from a guy with his stuff,” Avila said.

McClendon tossed

Apparently Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon’s reputation got him an early shower.

Home plate umpire Tony Randazzo ejected McClendon, the former Tigers’ coach, in the second inning. McClendon was complaining about Randazzo’s strike zone from the dugout when he got tossed.

“I was most upset that he threw me out of the ballgame,” McClendon said. “He thought it was me that was saying something. It wasn’t me. That probably upset me more than anything, and then when I went out there to ask him why I was thrown out he said ‘Well, I’ve seen your act before,’ and I don’t think that was called for.

“That’s not fair. If you think I said something about a ball or strike, then throw me out of the game. I get that. Talking about past history, that’s not fair.”

McClendon began barking at Randazzo in the first inning after he allowed Miguel Cabrera to call timeout while pitcher Felix Hernandez was starting his windup.