Price battles through deepest outing with Tigers
Two highlight-reel catches stand out as lefty throws 121 pitches in loss to Angels
ANAHEIM -- David Price threw 121 pitches Sunday night, his most as a Tiger. His outing might best be summed up with two unmistakable faces.
Price's look as he collected Johnny Giavotella's hard-hit line drive to strand two runners in the sixth inning was as much a sigh of relief as it was a smile at good fortune.
"Luck," Price said afterward. "It hit my glove. I needed it."
Price's look of anguish from the dugout railing during Giavotella's next at-bat, when his softly-hit line drive off Joba Chamberlain took Ian Kinsler too deep behind second base for a force out to end the next threat, looked like equal parts frustration and exasperation.
After 121 pitches, Price fell to a rally that never saw a ball get out of the infield. The Angels didn't beat him so much as outlasted him in a 4-2 Tigers loss, which finished off their first four-game sweep at Angel Stadium since 1996 with Price's first loss since April 22.
"It's frustrating," Price said. "We're not playing the way we're capable of playing right now. Every team goes through it. Every team's going to feel this throughout 162 games. You've just got to grind through it."
On a smaller scale, that's what Price and the Angels did Sunday. A Kole Calhoun walk was all Price allowed his first three innings as Los Angeles hitters chased pitches through the shadows of a late afternoon West Coast start. He gave up two singles in the fourth, but he retired Calhoun to maintain Detroit's first lead of the series.
When four Angels hits in the fifth brought two runs in, Price seemed poised for the kind of big frame that has swung other outings. But Price kept his big inning at two runs Sunday by getting a flyout from Albert Pujols and a swing and a miss from David Freese, and he was rewarded with a tying run from Miguel Cabrera on an error in the sixth.
"It's baseball," Price said. "... They battled back and scored a run the next inning, so that's huge."
Price helped his cause not just with the grab to retire Giavotella, but a similar catch an inning later on Mike Trout. He went into the eighth inning at 99 pitches with a 2-2 game.
A leadoff walk put Price in a battle for the rest of the inning. He had given up hits after 100 pitches -- opponents were 10-for-20 once he crossed the century mark in his previous starts -- but no walks. An infield chopper, sacrifice bunt and intentional walk later, Price had a bases-loaded showdown with pinch-hitter Carlos Perez.
With the count full and the go-ahead run a ball away, Price delivered a 94-mph fastball on his 121st pitch, which Perez popped up to first. It wasn't the end of the threat, but it was the end for Price's part of it.
"Price was done, I thought, at that point in the game," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He did his job. Joba comes in, there's a ball that if off the end of the bat that barely leaves the infield, perfectly placed, and it costs us the game."
Price threw his most pitches since Sept. 10, 2013 -- a 2-0 loss for the Rays against Boston -- and didn't have one that doomed him.
"Got to pitch better," Price said.