Miggy's walk-off single keeps Tigers' lead at one
Slugger drives in game-winner; Price allows three runs in ninth
DETROIT -- It was David Price's game, until it was a tie game. Then it was Joe Nathan's game. It ended up being Miguel Cabrera's game.
What the Tigers all acknowledged in the end was that Tuesday's matchup with the White Sox was a game they had to have. Just when it had seemingly slipped their grasp, Cabrera's walk-off single brought it back, salvaging a 4-3 win.
For Detroit's postseason picture, it was vital. While a Royals win in Cleveland kept Detroit's American League Central lead at one game, Seattle's second straight loss at Toronto -- this one with Felix Hernandez on the mound -- reduced Detroit's magic number to two for clinching a playoff berth.
A Tigers win and Mariners loss on Wednesday would guarantee at least a Wild Card for Detroit.
"Every team wants to be in the playoffs. That's our first goal," Cabrera said. "It's been tough this year, but you don't give up. You have to go out there and fight. You have to find a way to win games and, hopefully, we can do it tomorrow."
For 8 2/3 innings, that way seemed pretty direct. Price's performance carried the Tigers through a low-scoring duel with White Sox rookie starter Scott Carroll -- it was scoreless before Rajai Davis manufactured a run in the fifth -- until a pair of add-on runs in the seventh built a 3-0 lead.
One-out doubles from Dayan Viciedo in the second inning and Alexei Ramirez in the sixth, and an Adam Eaton second-inning single comprised all of the White Sox traffic against Price through eight innings and 95 pitches. He had retired seven consecutive batters, all of them in five pitches or fewer, and threw just 11 pitches in the eighth.
For a manager whose bullpen usage has become the focal point of his rookie season, this was fairly straightforward for Brad Ausmus. This was why Price put so much focus on getting outs in three pitches or fewer, on pounding the strike zone, on keeping his pitch count low. This, in turn, is why the Tigers paid a heavy price to acquire Price from the Rays on July 31.
"I thought it was his game," Ausmus said.
Once he threw his 100th pitch, he had two runners in scoring position and the tying run at the plate with Jose Abreu thanks to Eaton's leadoff single and Ramirez's double. What looked like a cruise to his first shutout since 2012, then a quest for his third complete-game win of the year, began to look like a struggle to hold on.
"I just want to go out there and pitch well. It's not me wanting to be the guy," Price said. "It's going out there and throwing the ball to my capabilities. For the most part today, I did that. … It happened for the most part, then the ninth came."
Price fanned Abreu on three pitches, coaxing another swing and miss with his cutter for his eighth strikeout, but Avisail Garcia's two-run single ramped up the threat. Out came Ausmus, who was showered with boos as he walked to the mound to check on Price, then cheered when he kept Price in the game.
"Really, I went out there thinking I was going to leave him in unless he told me he was running out of gas," Ausmus said. "It didn't look like he was running out of gas."
It was nearly similar, Price said, to a mound visit Ausmus gave him in his Tigers home debut with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. He was caught off guard by it then. He wasn't surprised this time.
"It might have been the same, word for word, actually," Price said. "I didn't lie. I felt good. Just nothing good happened."
Price got a first-pitch flyout from Dayan Viciedo, but back-to-back singles from Paul Konerko -- honored before the game in the final days of his career -- and Marcus Semien tied it.
"They were changeups," Price said. "That's what good hitters do."
Closer Joe Nathan (5-4) inherited a tie game with the go-ahead run on third, but escaped with a Carlos Sanchez flyout to center.
The White Sox batted around to tie it in the ninth. By contrast, Detroit needed just three batters against Jake Petricka (1-6) to take the game back. Ian Kinsler's leadoff single and Torii Hunter's five-pitch walk set up Cabrera, who hit his 51st double of the season in the first inning but also struck out twice.
"In the end, it's a bad situation with first and second and Miggy at the plate," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Cabrera's ground ball through the left side sent Kinsler speeding home and sent the Tigers racing toward Cabrera at second base.
"A win is a win," Cabrera said. "It doesn't matter at this time of the season. You gotta do anything to win games."