Tigers flail, then fail in pitching duel with Orioles

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Who had Chris Tillman outdueling David Price in this one? Anybody?

Didn't think so.

Tillman, who came in with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.556 WHIP, threw a one-hit shutout through eight innings, beating the Tigers 3-0 to even the series.

BOX SCORE: Orioles 3, Tigers 0

"Believe it or not, regardless of what it says on paper, you actually have to go out there and play the game on grass," said a caustic manager Brad Ausmus. "If we played the game on paper we could've said we win because David Price has a better ERA. That's not how the game works."

The loss puts the Tigers back to .500, 9.5 games and 10 losses behind the Royals in the AL Central, 4.5 games behind the second-place Twins.

"It's just part of it," said Price, who struck out a career-high tying 12 in seven innings and allowed only a long home run to Manny Machado in the third inning. "I've been on the opposite end of that a couple of times this year. It's baseball. It's life. You roll with it and get ready for the next start."

Ian Kinsler led off the first inning with a single. It would be the last Tigers hit of the game. Victor Martinez walked with one out in the first. He would be the last Tiger to reach base.

Tillman retired 23 straight from the first through the eighth. The Tigers barely hit any balls hard — one line drive by Yoenis Cespedes in the third and a liner to second by James McCann in the eighth.

"You don't want to, but you have to tip your cap to him (Tillman)," Alex Avila said. "He had a good mix and good command."

Tillman kept the Tigers off balance by mixing speeds with his curveball and change-up off of well-located fastballs that ranged from 92-95 mph.

"Command was the big thing," Avila said. "Times in the past we faced him and he didn't have as good command and you were able to get to him. You get more mistakes that way. Tonight he was able to put his fastball in all four quadrants of the plate and mix in the change-up and curve."

He struck out eight, getting J.D. Martinez twice. Kinsler was the only runner to get to third base — he did so with one out in the first. But Tillman got J.D. Martinez to pop out to second and Nick Castellanos to fly to right.

"All his pitches were working and he didn't make any mistakes," J.D. Martinez said. "Every time you were up there, he was hitting a corner, moving it down, up, in, out."

Orioles closer Zach Britton retired the Tigers in order in the ninth for his 24th save. So, when you add it up, 26 straight Tigers were dispatched.

"It's baseball," Ausmus said. "Sometimes you lose. Sometimes your pitcher does a great job and you can't muster a run."

Price made one bad pitch. A curveball to Machado that was up and over the inside part of the plate leading off the third inning. Machado hit it a mile high and just inside the foul pole into the second level in left field.

"I've thrown that pitch many times and guys either take it or foul it off," Price said. "He put a good swing on it and hit a home run."

Price needed 65 pitches to get through three innings, but he still fought his way through seven innings. His fastball topped out at 97 and he was consistently at 94-96.

"That's what bothers me the most," Martinez said. "David has pitched his butt off all game. He deserved to win today. Unfortunately we didn't produce for him."

The sixth inning was indicative of the way he battled. Adam Jones led off with a ringing double off the wall in left – it missed going out by inches. Price bowed his neck and struck out Matt Wieters (who came in hitting .366 against him) and Chris Davis on six pitches.

Those six strikes — 95, 96, 96, 96, 95, 96 on the radar gun.

The next hitter reached on an error by Castellanos, but, undeterred, Price got Jonathan Schoop to ground out on one pitch.

He was at 112 pitches and done after seven innings.

After Alex Wilson pitched a scoreless eighth and Ian Krol got the first out of the ninth, Bruce Rondon came on. Not much good happened after that.

Rondon gave up a single on a 0-2 count to J.J. Hardy and a double to Schoop.

He got pinch-hitter Jimmy Paredes to ground to first for the second out. But on a 101 mph fastball, Caleb Joseph singled in the two insurance runs. Center fielder Anthony Gose, who made a textbook running catch for the first out, seemed to get a late start on Joseph's sinking liner.

"He's throwing strikes," Ausmus said. "It's not an issue where he's getting behind hitters. They are just taking advantage of pitches he leaves over the middle."

Twitter @cmccosky