Price shines but Tiger bats go quiet in loss to Mariners
Detroit — The scene was far too familiar. The quiet clubhouse. No music. No talking. Players soundlessly packing their bags for the three-city trip.
The disappointment, the frustration, though mostly unvoiced, was palpable.
"We've got to find a way to win, bottom line," catcher James McCann said after the Tigers lost 3-2 in 12 innings to the Seattle Mariners Thursday. "That's what we're paid to do, win. Whatever it takes to win, we've got to find a way to do it.
"Of course it wears on you. Who wants to be a loser? You play the game to win. Obviously we love the game, that's why we're here. But it's not fun to lose."
The loss means another failed home stand (3-4), another day spent under .500 (47-48), another step backward in the race for a playoff spot.
"The frustrating part is you feel like you are taking a step or two forward and you take a step back," manager Brad Ausmus said. "It's almost like we're treading water. We keep waiting for the step or two forward, then the third and fourth step and we get rolling.
"But every time you feel like you are on the cusp of something good, something positive, we end up losing a game, it pushes us back."
The Tigers scored 23 runs in the first three games of this series but struggled to get the Mariners out. This time they went scoreless for the final 11 innings and wasted an excellent pitching performance by David Price and an overworked bullpen.
"This is a tough game," said Price, who might have pitched his final game as a Tiger at Comerica Park. "Those guys have done a great job of scoring runs for me all season long. I just didn't execute when I needed to late in the game."
Price got two standing ovations, one after the eighth inning when he was at 114 pitches and most assumed done for the day. The second came after he gave up a leadoff double to Kyle Seager in the ninth.
Price wasn't in a mood to be sentimental.
"I appreciate the support," he said. "I hope (the ovation) was because I pitched into the ninth and gave up two runs."
The Tigers won't return home until after the July 31 trade deadline, but none of that was on Price's mind.
"It's out of my control," he said. "So there is no point in thinking about it."
Price gave up a home run to Seager in the first and a two-out, game-tying RBI single to Mark Trumbo — a sinking liner that eluded right-fielder J.D. Martinez — in the seventh.
All the Tigers could muster was a two-run double by Victor Martinez in the first.
"Well, we're trying," Victor Martinez said. "We're not playing Little League teams. There's big league teams on the other side. We're just going out there and make sure we play the game hard, and see what happens. We've been coming up on the wrong side of some close games, like today."
The Mariners got the winner in the 12th off Ian Krol. Mike Zunino, after failing to drop a sacrifice bunt, snuck a double down the line in left. The ball took a 90-degree carom off the fence and Chris Taylor scored all the way from first.
"Really the bullpen did a nice job," Ausmus said. "We went 11 innings (without scoring). Their pitching did a better job…We lose the series to Baltimore, we go up two out of three here, then we lose today on a very well-pitched game by David Price — so it's a little frustrating."
The Tigers stranded runners in scoring position in the seventh, eighth, 11th and 12th innings. Jose Iglesias singled and was sacrificed to second in the 12th, but Tom Wilhelmsen got Ian Kinsler to fly out.
After Yoenis Cespedes was walked intentionally, Jefry Marte came up in Victor Martinez's spot. Martinez, who was hit by a pitch in the 11th, was removed for a pinch-runner.
"We still have some chance," Martinez said. "There's a lot of games left. You just never know what's going to happen. Just keep playing the game, keep playing hard and see what happens."
Martinez also had a message for those in the clubhouse who might be feeling resigned to an unhappy fate.
"You have to (forget about it)," he said. "If you can't turn the page, you're in the wrong sport. You just can't. As a baseball player you can't let any game be in your mind for too long. If you're not able to do that, I think, you're going to have trouble in your career."
With each loss, the trade deadline looms larger in the players' thoughts.
"It could change (the team) for the better, it could change it for the worse," McCann said. "It's not in our hands. Us as players have put the front office in the situation they are in to make a decision. If we're sitting differently, it'd be a different story."