Detroit Tigers pitcher David Price admitted before his first start against his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, that he did not really want to go against his friends. That was probably something fans did not want to hear from a player on a team in the middle of the American League Wild Card and AL Central division race.
However, Price rose above the stress that comes when facing a former team and showed he can shake off outside influences in his start at Tropicana Field on Thursday. Price gave up a triple and an unearned run in the first, but he calmed down and went on to sit 23 batters in a row. He struck out nine, issued no free passes and did not even have a three-ball count in eight innings of work. Unfortunately, Price’s current teammates could not do anything against Alex Cobb and the Rays’ bullpen in a 1-0 loss.
This is an encouraging sign as the postseason races continue to heat up. The Tigers have already lost the division lead to the red-hot Kansas City Royals and are in a back-and-forth battle with the Seattle Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Price was one of the key pickups by any team at the MLB trade deadline, but had he crumbled against his friends on Thursday, that may have been a sign of things to come when the pressures of trying to get into the American League playoffs peak in September.
The Tigers already have enough problems with the Royals and the Mariners. The last thing Detroit needed was one of their best pitchers floundering to his former team.
Detroit will need to rely heavily on Price down the stretch, and if Thursday’s outing is any indication of how he will handle it, the Tigers are in good hands.