Detroit Tigers Opening Day victors behind sparkling David Price
By Matt Pelc
Remember David Price‘s last start of Spring Training when he allowed seven runs and panic set in? No, I don’t either. The starting pitcher spun a gem and helped his team blank the Minnesota Twins to complete a perfect Detroit Tigers Opening Day, 4-0.
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Brad Ausmus gave Price the chance to become the first Tigers’ pitcher since Mickey Lolich in 1970 to pitch a complete game shutout but he allowed two straight hits with two outs. At 101 pitches, it was probably the right move to take out a pitcher on Opening Day.
Despite boos at Comerica Park, Joe Nathan came on to strikeout former Tiger Torii Hunter and earn his first save of the season.
Price, the first non-Justin Verlander Opening Day start for Detroit since 2007, went 8.2 innings, striking out six, allowing just five hits with no walks. So dominant was Price that he threw a first pitch strike on 19 of the 30 batters he faced.
It almost wasn’t a shutout if not for the heroics of new left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, robbing Kurt Suzuki of a homer.
Cespedes also had himself a day at the plate, notching a double, triple and executing a perfect read to score the fourth run on a sacrifice fly by Nick Castellanos.
J.D. Martinez opened the scoring in the second inning with a solo homer, which also happened to be the first home run of the Major League Baseball season. J.D. Mart is seemingly picking up where he left off last year and in the just completed Spring Training.
Martinez’s homer was opposite field and two batters later, Alex Avila notched his first homer of the year, also opposite field. It was Avila’s first opposite field homer since August 2013 and made the score 3-0 at the time.
The Tigers did a couple of things today they couldn’t do much last year: score runs off Phil Hughes and prevent the Twins from scoring runs. Hughes held the Tigers in check with a sub-2.00 ERA in two starts while the Twins scored 119 runs against Detroit pitching a year ago.
But the Tigers began this regular season how the last one ended, with a shutout gem by David Price.
It was a good win for the Tigers, their fourth straight Opening Day win, because Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez combined to go 1-for-8. So while they continue to get their game in shape, Detroit proved they could win with solid offense, sharp starting pitching, smart base running and great defense even without big contributions from the big guns.
The shutout marked the first time the Tigers have blanked an opponent since shutting out the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in 2004.
The undefeated Tigers will look to clinch a series victory after an off-day on Tuesday when the teams regroup for a game Wednesday. Anibal Sanchez will battle Ricky Nolasco at 1:08.