By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Saturday night’s game between the Detroit Tigers and the Seattle Mariners could turn out to be a classic.
On the mound for the Mariners will be Felix Hernandez – more commonly know as “King Felix” – and on the mound for the Tigers will be David Price, the hottest commodity on the trade market this season before the Tigers nabbed him at the deadline.
Price won the Cy Young in 2012. Hernandez won the Cy Young in 2010. Price has appeared in four All-Star Games, Hernandez in five. Price has an ERA of 3.21 through 185 1/3 innings this season, while Hernandez has an ERA of 1.95 through 180 1/3 innings.
For those who enjoy pitchers duels, Saturday could be a doozy.
“Certainly as hitters, there’s a little bit more concentration, a little bit more adrenaline,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “The guy you’re facing is one of the best in the game – and that applies to both sides, obviously. There’s really nothing that anyone has to do to psych themselves up. It happens automatically when you’re facing pitchers like this.”
Saturday will be the first start for Price at his new home field of Comerica Park. He has pitched twice for the Tigers – his debut for Detroit an impressive outing in which he lasted 8 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs, his second start less compelling as he gave up four runs in six innings – but did so on the road both times.
The first batter Price faces in Comerica Park will be Austin Jackson – none other than the former Tigers center fielder whom Detroit traded away to procure Price. Ausmus said he expects Jackson will be cognizant of the matchup and perhaps wanting to deliver even more than usual.
“There’s no question when you go back and play a team that traded you away, whether you left on good terms or bad terms, you always kind of want to stick it to them,” Ausmus said. “I said it when Jax got traded, he couldn’t have been more professional and classy about the whole thing, and seeing him here yesterday, he continued to be the same way, but I’m sure he still wanted to – and in these next two games, he still wants to do some damage against us, not just because it’s the Tigers. He certainly also wants to help his new team win a game and get closer to the playoffs.”
On a bit of a skid recently thanks to a rough road trip, the Tigers trail the Kansas City Royals by a game and a half in the American League Central Division. The Mariners, by winning nine of their last 10 games, have Detroit edged for the second wild card spot, for which the Tigers trail by half a game. If Saturday marked the end of the season, the Tigers would miss the playoffs.
The Tigers have dismissed any concern about that worst-case scenario as premature, as well it is, but as the season comes closer to its close, Detroit’s place in the standings remains an area to keep an eye on.