KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alex Gordon stood at second base, appearing to be in disbelief. He had just watched the Tigers orchestrate a double play that ended the sixth inning, evaporating a prime scoring chance and destroying a chance to puncture David Price’s still spotless pitching line.
Price went the distance against Kansas City on Saturday night, plowing through the Royals’ lineup effortlessly and leading the Tigers to a 2-1 win. It was Detroit’s first win of the season against the Royals, having dropped the opening pair at Kauffman Stadium.
"We had some good swings and hit some line drives," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Every inning, everybody felt like we could come in and maybe create some damage a little bit. Price just pitched a fantastic game."
Kansas City registered just four hits against Price, one an infield single by Mike Moustakas and two others from Salvador Perez. It only had one player reach second base and only had one at-bat with runners in scoring position. It came in the sixth inning.
Christian Colon knocked a one-out single and Price fumbled Gordon’s dribbler back to the mound. Gordon’s grounder could have been a double-play ball for Detroit, ending the threat before there ever was one. Price had finally made a mistake and his error placed runners at first and second for Moustakas.
Moustakas watched a 96-mph fastball go by for strike one. He fouled off a 97-mph one for strike two. Then he poked a 96-mph pitch softly and slowly to third base. Nick Castellanos gathered the ball, forced out Colon at third and guided the ball across the diamond to barely nab Moustakas.
Yost climbed to the top step of the dugout, awaiting word on if Moustakas had beat out the throw. He hadn’t.
"It was really close," Yost said, "but the umpire got it right."
Moustakas’ double-play ball was the only at-bat with a Royal at second base and was the only opportunity Kansas City had to score until Lorenzo Cain’s solo home run in the bottom of the ninth. Cain’s homer spoiled Price’s shutout, but didn’t damage his stellar outing.
Price retired the first 10 batters he faced and faced just four batters above the minimum. He walked none and struck out three.
"He’s one of the best pitchers in the game," Colon said.
Colon had one of the four Kansas City hits, but his most important play may have come on defense. In the third inning, Colon received Omar Infante’s feed on a possible double-play ball. Colon pivoted at second base, with Detroit’s Anthony Gose racing to second. Gose slid hard, and his slide was effective enough to force an errant throw from Colon to first base.
Colon’s throw allowed Rajai Davis to score the game’s first run, which was all Price needed.
"Looking back on it, I wish I would have just ate the ball, just kept it with me," Colon said. "Tried to be aggressive and make a play, and just one of those I wish I could do it all over again if I could."
Price’s performance overshadowed yet another solid one from Kansas City’s Edinson Volquez. Volquez threw six innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits and three walks. He struck out four.
Volquez danced in and out of trouble through his outing, holding the Tigers to a 1-for-8 showing with runners in scoring position. He exited the game after throwing 102 pitches.
"He did a fantastic job of keeping us in the ballgame," Yost said.
But Price was just better. The left-hander recorded his 12th career complete game and limited the Royals to their lowest scoring output in 10 days. Volquez had the misfortune of pitching against him.
"We all know what he can do," Volquez said. "It’s not a surprise."