David Price got into a sticky situation in the eighth, and Brad Ausmus decided to leave the ace in the game.
Price then rewarded his manager for the vote of confidence.
Price wriggled out of the jam in his final inning, and the Detroit Tigers snapped Seattle’s five-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory over Felix Hernandez and the Mariners on Saturday.
The Tigers had a three-run lead when the Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. When Ausmus came out of the dugout, Price was sure his night was done.
"I’ve never had a manager come out in the middle of the inning and not pull me," he said. "That had never happened."
But Ausmus just wanted to check in with Price, who is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in three starts since he was acquired from Tampa Bay in a three-team trade last month.
"This is only David’s third game for us, so I’m not used to how he handles himself late in the game," Ausmus said. "I went out there to ask him if he was OK, he gave me a very definitive answer, and I went back to the dugout."
Price (12-8) then struck out Austin Jackson — one of the players Detroit traded for him — and then induced Dustin Ackley to ground into a force at second.
"That was a huge moment for me," Price said. "I wanted to finish that inning off, so I looked Brad straight in the eye and told him I was good to go. I didn’t want to be one of those pitchers who looks down and mumbles that he’s OK. I wanted to make sure he knew I was ready."
Hernandez was pulled after five innings and 92 pitches. He allowed two runs and seven hits, struck out three and walked none.
Hernandez was hit on his left hip by Ian Kinsler’s comebacker on the third out of the fourth inning, and took another glancing blow from a ball hit by Miguel Cabrera in the fifth.
"He’s fine, we just took him out as a precaution after he got hit again by Miguel in the fifth," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said.
Hernandez (13-4) lost his record streak of 16 consecutive starts of at least seven innings and no more than two runs. Hernandez broke Tom Seaver’s major-league mark of 13 in a row earlier this month.
"I’m fine — I’m going to live," Hernandez said. "I was throwing a lot of pitches tonight, especially at the beginning of the game. I wasn’t missing by much.
"The streak’s over, but I’ll start a new one soon."
Joe Nathan pitched the ninth, allowing one run while picking up his 25th save. It was his first appearance since making a profane gesture at Comerica Park fans on Wednesday, and he received a mixture of cheers and boos when he was introduced.
"I apologized on Thursday, but I still feel terrible for my actions, so I want to apologize again," said Nathan, who didn’t celebrate after the final out. "I’ll keep apologizing until the fans understand how upset I am that I let my frustration get the best of me. I don’t want my entire career to be known for three seconds of anger."
Nick Castellanos hit a solo homer in the fourth for Detroit. He also had a two-out RBI single in the Tigers’ two-run seventh.
Seattle: Cano was back in the starting lineup one day after fouling a pitch off his foot. Cano played several more innings after the painful foul ball, only leaving when the Mariners built a comfortable lead, and was fine to play against Price.
Detroit: Cabrera needed the attention of Tigers trainer Kevin Rand after taking a Hernandez fastball just above the left elbow. The impact caused Cabrera’s hand to go numb — a day after he had stayed in Friday’s series opener after injuring this thumb on the first play of the game — but he stayed in the game after a short delay.
The three-game series concludes with rookie Robbie Ray (1-2, 5.31 ERA) facing Seattle’s Chris Young (11-6, 3.20 ERA). Ray, acquired in the Doug Fister trade last winter, is in his second stint with the Tigers, both to replace Anibal Sanchez in the rotation.
Young has never lost to Detroit in three career starts, going 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA.
The Hernandez-Price matchup, plus a postgame fireworks show, drew a sold-out crowd of 43,833 — Detroit’s sixth consecutive sellout.
The Tigers purchased the contract of reliever Jim Johnson from Triple-A Toledo and sent Melvin Mercedes back to the Mud Hens. Johnson posted 101 saves for Baltimore in the last two seasons, but he struggled with Oakland and was released on August 1.