The Detroit Tigers’ bats hit the snooze alarm for another game but David Price made the most of what his offense gave him. Price’s bid for the complete-game shutout was shattered by Lorenzo Cain’s two-out ninth inning home run but he followed with a strike out of Eric Hosmer to complete the 2-1 victory over the Royals in Kansas City.
Brad Ausmus made one lineup change on Saturday, adding speed by inserting Rajai Davis into right field, batting ninth, to replace the slumping J.D. Martinez.
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The Tigers made that strategy pay in the top of the third when Davis drew a lead off walk. Gose singled to right to put runners on first and second with nobody out.
Ian Kinsler followed with what looked like a double-play ball to second baseman Omar Infante but Gose’s hard slide into second forced a throwing error by shortstop Christian Colon. Davis, running all the way, scored easily to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
They struck again in the top of the fifth when Gose doubled to left and Kinsler followed with a sharp single into center to stretch the lead to 2-0.
That was all the offense the Tigers could muster against the Royals’ trio of starter Edinson Volquez and relievers Franklin Morales and Yohan Pino. The team was an anemic 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 15 men on base for the game.
Price made the most of his 106 pitches Saturday night. He only struck out three but was efficient, only needing 52 pitches to breeze through the first five innings. He also received stellar support from his defense throughout the game to help keep the Royals’ offense at bay.
In the fourth, with one out, Ausmus shifted his defense against Mike Moustakas, who slapped a ball down the third-base line for a single, the first of the game for the Royals. Moustakas struggled against the shift in 2014 but has defeated that strategy this season with 17 of his 33 hits stroked to the left side of the field.
After Cain flied out, catcher Alex Avila alertly fired a throw to second to nail Moustakas on a delayed steal attempt to end the inning.
In the sixth, the Royals put men on first and second with one out on a single by Colon and a fielding error by Price against Alex Gordon. Moustakas followed by sending a sharp ground ball down the third-base line that was stabbed by Nick Castellanos. He stepped on third and fired to Miguel Cabrera at first to double-up Moustakas and end the threat.
With the win the Tigers pulled themselves back to within a half-game of the Royals for first place in the A.L. Central. They’ll attempt to split the series and retake the division lead Sunday afternoon when Anibal Sanchez, 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA, takes the mound against Jeremy Guthrie, 1-1, 5.47 ERA.