Price helps himself with fine glove work on mound
Detroit — David Price raved about the defense of his teammates.
But what about your own defense?
"Ha," he said with a big old grin after the Tigers beat the White Sox, 2-1, on Friday at Comerica Park. "I'm glad you said that, man."
Price, the Tigers' ace lefty, helped himself with the glove three times in the victory — twice on good White Sox bunts, and once by starting a pivotal double play.
It started with the first batter of the game, speedy Adam Eaton, who placed down a perfect bunt between Price and first base. Price raced over, grabbed it with his hand and flipped to just barely get the out.
Two innings later, another burner, Emilio Bonafacio, tried the same thing leading off the third. His bunt was almost in the exact same spot as Eaton's, and this time Price bolted, grabbed it with his glove and shoveled it for the out.
If either of those guys reached to start an inning, it could've sparked a rally.
Instead, Price shut them down.
"He's a very athletic guy," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He was one of the better shooters in our basketball tournament in spring training."
Price has never won a Gold Glove.
He made fun of himself last week in Cleveland, on the topic, after he had thrown a potential double-play ball past second baseman Ian Kinsler.
As fate would have it, Price got almost the same ball hit to him in the seventh inning — a comebacker by Gordon Beckham.
This time, he grabbed the ball, settled his feet, and fired a perfect strike to start the double play that ended the inning.
Unlike in Cleveland, he took his time.
"I got another chance for it today," said Price, who took the no-decision but is sporting a nifty 0.40 ERA through three starts. "That was the exact same ball, and I was very happy I made a good throw to second base."
That play is butchered by pitchers all the time. Why is that?
Price said there are a number of factors. Pitchers are trying to find good footing — you don't want to be throwing with one foot on the mound — and often, they rush their throw.
"A lot of pitchers try to get too quick; that's what I did in Cleveland," Price said. "Players can't outrun the baseball. There's nobody in the game that outruns the baseball."
Calling an audible
The Tigers had ample scoring opportunities Friday.
One golden one was in the seventh inning, when Jose Iglesias led off with a double.
The next batter, Rajai Davis, bunted — and it wasn't a good one. He popped it to Beckham at third, and the Tigers fumbled another scoring chance.
It was a curious call, Davis bunting with Anthony Gose on deck. Gose is largely a ground-ball hitter, so he's not a great sacrifice-fly candidate.
Ausmmus shed some light on that decision during his postgame presser.
Simply put, he didn't signal for Davis to bunt. Davis did it on his own.
"Raj thought he'd get a hit," Ausmus said. "He's trying to give himself up for the team, so I applaud him for that."
As for all the missed opportunities, including stranding two runers in three of the first five innings, Ausmus dismissed that as a concern.
More, he said, it was a product of the opposing pitcher.
"We had some opportunities to score that passed us by, but again, that's why Jeff Samardzija is Jeff Samardzija," Ausmus said. "That's why the Chicago White Sox got him, that's why the Oakland A's got him before that."
The ninth inning was a good one for Nick Castellanos.
He started it on defense, diving and snagging a grounder by Jose Abreu leading off the inning. He got up and fired a strike to first for the first out for Joakim Soria, who went on to throw a 1-2-3 inning.
"That completely changes that inning," Price said.
Then Castellanos led off the bottom of the ninth with his double, a shot to right on which he got to second base — per umpires' discretion, allegedly avoiding the tag by shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
A short while later, his pinch-runner Andrew Romine scored the winning run as the Tigers ran their record to 9-1.
So, what was most fun about that inning?
"To be honest," Castellanos said, "I pretty much enjoyed every part of the ninth inning, from my play to Iglesias walking it off. It was a lot of fun."
Around the horn
Davis was at third base with no out in the third inning, but he was thrown out easily at the plate, having run on contact when Ian Kinsler hit a sharp grounder to third. The Tigers had the "contact play" on, meaning the runner on third breaks for home on contact.
It's a tough call, Ausmus said, because if Davis holds, then the Tigers would've had runners at second and third, so Miguel Cabrera probably would've been walked intentionally. Instead, Davis got thrown out, and the Tigers had runners on first and second with Cabrera up. The Tigers like their chances with the latter scenario.
... Why did Castellanos test Garcia in the ninth inning? In a pregame meeting, players were told to be aggressive with Garcia's arm, which isn't known for accuracy.
... DH Victor Martinez, still working his way back from knee surgery, will play Saturday and Sunday, after getting another day off Friday.
... Before the game, Cabrera was presented his player of the month award from last September, and Kinsler received his Wilson defensive player of the year trophy.
... Gose had two more hits, giving him four multi-hit games in his first six starts for the Tigers.
White Sox at Tigers
First pitch: 1:08 Saturday, Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: FSD, MLB Network/WXYT
■LHP Chris Sale (1-0, 1.50), White Sox: He healed quickly from a fractured foot suffered about a month before Opening Day, and he was his typical great self in his season debut, striking out eight in a win over the Twins.
■RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-1, 3.46), Tigers: He's super big for the Tigers this year, especially if Justin Verlander is out an extended time. Last start, he gave up three home runs, after allowing only four all of last season.