DETROIT — Everything Tigers manager Brad Ausmus needed to know about David Price, he learned in the eighth inning of Saturday night’s 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Price, making his first start at Comerica Park in front of the largest non-Opening Day crowd (43,833), had just walked Mariners shortstop Chris Taylor to load the bases with just one out and a 4-1 lead.
Ausmus walked out to the mound to see if Price needed to come out.
"I was a little concerned, because of the long bottom of the seventh," Ausmus said. "I was a little concerned that long layoff took a little bit of steam out of him.
"I wanted to get a feel with how he was doing. He made it extremely clear that he was good. And he was good. And I was happy."
Price said he thought his night was done as he saw Ausmus approach.
"I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I ever had the manager come out and I’ve been able to stay in the game," Price said. "That’s cool. I love that. I don’t ever want to get taken out in the middle of an inning or before the ninth inning’s over. I really appreciate him having the confidence in me to go out there and get those last two outs. That was big."
Because Ausmus is still learning about Price, Price made sure to be very direct.
"I made sure I looked him right in his eyes when I said that (I was good)," Price said. "I know a lot of guys might look down and say I’m fine and the manager probably doesn’t believe him. So I made sure I stared him right in his eyes and I let him know I was fine."
Catcher Alex Avila knew before Ausmus got there that Price was good to go.
"I figured Brad would ask him but when I got out there before Brad, there wasn’t a question in my mind that he was going to be staying in," Avila said. "I’m glad he did."
Price struck out former Tiger Austin Jackson and got Dustin Ackley to ground into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
"That was big, absolutely," Price said of the strikeout. "It was one out with the bases loaded, a hit scores two. Obviously a home run, that puts us down one, that would have completely changed the night for us."
Price allowed just one run on three hits while walking three and striking out seven in eight innings. It’s the 14th time Price has gone eight innings or more.
"He really didn’t let us string anything together," Ackley said. "I thought we hit some balls hard but nothing really to show for it."
Said Mike Zunino: "He did a good job of mixing his fastball and change-up. Did the cutter and slider when he needed to. Did a real nice job of mixing all four pitches."
It was just what the Tigers needed as they were facing another former Cy Young winner in Felix Hernandez, a guy who came in with a 13-3 record and 1.95 ERA.
"I know I couldn’t go out there and give up crooked numbers ’cause the way Felix has been throwing the baseball, nobody’s ever done that ever in baseball," Price said. "He’s definitely the best pitcher in baseball right now."
The Tigers snapped Hernandez’s streak of 16 straight starts of at least seven innings and allowing two runs or fewer. Hernandez gave up two runs in five innings.
"We had some good at-bats off him and were able to get his pitch count up, were able to get to him," Avila said. "But the thing about Felix is when you get to him, it’s two runs. You gotta make sure you have a guy like David Price going against him, too."
Price, who pitched in front of much smaller crowds when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, said he loved the atmosphere of the sold-out ballpark.
"That’s awesome, man, it really is," Price said. "It helps, especially deep in the game when you are a little bit tired. It propels you. I appreciate it."
With the Kansas City Royals’ loss to the Minnesota Twins, Price’s effort helped the Tigers move to within a half-game of the Royals in the division.