DETROIT -- Coming down the stretch, David Price is as vital to the Red Sox as any player on the team. To that end, the lefty provided a highly encouraging performance in the first game back after the All-Star break, stifling the Tigers with 6 1/3 scoreless innings and leading
DETROIT -- Coming down the stretch, David Price is as vital to the Red Sox as any player on the team. To that end, the lefty provided a highly encouraging performance in the first game back after the All-Star break, stifling the Tigers with 6 1/3 scoreless innings and leading his team to a 1-0 victory in Friday night's opener of a three-game series at Comerica Park.
With the normally potent Boston bats quieted, Price (11-6, 4.17 ERA) and the bullpen did the rest. In the fourth, when the Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out, Price found a way to get out of it.
"I was definitely happy [to get out of it]," said Price. "It was a little bit kind of self-induced, so I wasn't too happy about that. That was big, to be able to get out of that inning."
Price walked one, struck out five and allowed just four hits.
"Any time you can win 1-0, that's a good game," he said. "We got a run there in that first inning, and everybody did their job after that, and it was good to see. I was just using everything in different counts, early on in the count. Not getting too happy on one side of the plate, and we moved it around really well tonight. Had some really good defensive plays, and it was a good 1-0 win."
By reeling off their 13th win in the last 14 games and 18th in the last 21, the Red Sox improved their MLB-best record to 69-30 and opened up a season-high lead of 5 1/2 games over the Yankees in the American League East.
While Boston is looking strong in its pursuit of a third consecutive division title, Price will be a key factor for the club to go deep into October. Price looks to be over the hiccup he had in his first two starts in July, when he lost to the Yankees and Royals.
"He's fine," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We know that he talks about making adjustments and all that stuff. I think that mechanically he feels better now, but I think it goes to mixing up his pitches, and the last two outings, he's done a better job of it."
Steve Pearce got the Red Sox off to a good start when he ripped an RBI double into the left-field corner to give Price a 1-0 lead in the first.
The right-handed-hitting Pearce has proved to be a perfect fit since being acquired from Toronto on June 28, hitting .433 (13-for-30), including five doubles.
"I definitely started off on the right foot," Pearce said. "There's great communication here, and they prepare the right way, and I know my role here. I'm glad it's all working out."
After the big early hit by Pearce, Tigers starter Matthew Boyd handcuffed the Red Sox, and so did several Detroit relievers.
Price and Boston's bullpen made the slight lead stand up. Richard Hembree and Matt Barnes set it up for closer Craig Kimbrel to enter in the ninth and notch his 31st save.
Without question, the tone-setter was Price.
"He was good, man. Breaking balls. Changeups. Backdoor cutters to righties. He battled," Cora said. "He did a good job. He threw a 3-2 changeup in a big spot, I think it was bases loaded. We haven't seen that the whole season. He's been able to use his changeup a little more, mix up his breaking ball. It's a better mix. You can see the results."
• Holt day-to-day with right knee contusion
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Barnes buckles down: Barnes had so much movement on his pitches in the eighth that sure-handed catcher Sandy Leon was having trouble keeping the ball in front of him. The inning started with Niko Goodrum striking out, but reaching first on a wild pitch. Barnes then struck out Jeimer Candelario on another wild pitch, but got credit for the out on that one because first base was occupied. But Goodrum raced to third on the wild pitch as the ball caromed to the first-base side of the backstop. Barnes then got out Nicholas Castellanos on a grounder to third and struck out James McCann on a 98-mph heater.
"You just keep making pitches," Barnes said. "That's probably the first time I've ever seen Sandy do that. I've been playing with him for a few years now and he's phenomenal, one of the best defenders back there. Those days happen. That's where you pick each other up, keep moving and making pitches."
This season, the Red Sox are 46-5 when they score first, the best mark in the Majors.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
J.D. Martinez, playing his first game in Detroit since the Tigers traded him to Arizona last July, certainly looked at home in right field. The slugger made two terrific catches to help preserve the victory. The first one was in the bottom of the third, when JaCoby Jones crushed one and Martinez raced back and crashed into the wall for the third out. An inning later, he helped Price escape that bases-loaded jam with a fine running catch against Victor Martinez.
"It was huge. Any time you can get those kind of plays in situations like that, it's big for the pitcher, for our team, for everybody. To have guys make those types of plays, it's huge," said Price.
HE SAID IT
"[Barnes] been great for us. Everything I heard from last year, the game will kind of speed up on him. That's not the case now. It's actually the other way around. He slows down. He had Castellanos with a man at third, less than two outs, and he executes his pitches up in the zone, and he's able to get him out. His breaking ball was outstanding today. It was a tough one today -- ask Sandy -- but he's another guy that, he's very comfortable in his role. Whether it's the seventh or the eighth, he's doing an outstanding job for us." -- Cora
Lefty Christopher Johnson, who has been reliable as a rotation fill-in this season, gets another chance on Saturday when he faces the Tigers. Johnson is 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in four starts. This will be his first career appearance at Comerica Park. The Tigers counter with right-hander Mike Fiers (6-6, 3.70 ERA). Jackie Bradley Jr., who was out of the lineup against lefty Matthew Boyd on Friday, will get back in there for this one. First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. ET.