The anticipated matchup between Felix Hernandez and David Price Saturday in Detroit went the way of the Tigers’ ace in a 4-2 victory that ended the Mariners’ five-game winning streak as well as the Seattle ace’s major league record for consistent excellence. It also bumped the Tigers above the Mariners by a half-game in the race for the American League’s second wild card berth.
Squeezed early by a dubious strike zone from home plate umpire Tony Randazzo that inspired the ejection of manager Lloyd McClendon, Hernandez lasted just five innings because he threw 92 pitches. He gave up only two runs, but it ended a splendid streak of 16 games in which he pitched seven innings and gave up two or fewer runs — the greatest of its kind in major-league history.
The matchup — it was Price’s first game at Comerica Park since his July 31 trade from Tampa — drew 43,833, biggest since opening day and the Tigers’ 21st sellout of the season. Price gave up the one run, three hits and three walks in eight innings and left to a standing ovation. He threw 110 pitches and struck out seven.
Hernandez, struck in the hip by a one-hop comebacker that caused him to limp temporarily, gave up seven hits.
A pair of seventh-inning runs off reliever Brandon Maurer ended another Mariners streak — the pitching staff had 13 games in a row in which it gave up 13 runs or fewer. The last American League team to do better was the 1991 Blue Jays with 15.
The clash between the Cy Young winners was a first, largely because Price has faced the Mariners only three times in his seven-year career.
The Tigers, the top-hitting team in the AL, gave him a boost in the second when D.J. Martinez singled into the shortstop hole. After a strikeout, he stole second. Alex Avila singled to right, Martinez holding at third, then came home on a grounder by Eugenio Suarez to third that forced Avila at second.
McClendon, who disputed a timeout that disrupted Hernandez, as well as ball-strike calls, was ejected in the dugout by Randazzo. He came onto the field to confront the umpire, whose zone made for a 28-pitch inning for Hernandez.
McClendon said he was ejected because of something said by someone else.
“It wasn’t me,” McClendon told reporters afterward. “That’s what most upset me. When I went out to ask him, he said, ‘I’ve seen your act before.’ I thought that was uncalled for. That’s not fair. Talking about past history is unfair. But it is what it is.”
The Mariners tied it in the fourth after Jackson, in his first series in Detroit after the three-team trade that brought him to Seattle, led off with one-hop double off the right-center wall. Dustin Ackley’s long flyout moved Jackson to third. Robinson Cano’s hard grounder to first caused Miguel Cabrera to dive for the catch, leaving no play for him at home to get Jackson.
The Tigers bounced back in the inning to a 2-1 lead on a solo homer by Nick Castellanos, which was all Price needed. They tacked on two in the seventh on three hits off Maurer, starting with a double by Cabrera.
Hernandez was pulled after five because of the pitch count and a sore hip, which McClendon said was not serious. He also said Hernandez was distracted by the strike zone.
“I think he was (frustrated), to some extent,” McClendon said. “He’s a strikeout pitcher who doesn’t walk people and he had 47 pitches through the second. That’s kinda tough. The stars didn’t align for us tonight.”
In the eighth, the Mariners loaded the bases with one out on a hit and two walks, but Jackson struck out and Ackley grounded out. In the ninth against flagging reliever Joe Nathan, Cano scored on a single by pinch-hitter Endy Chavez, but Seager grounded into a force to end the game.
Entering the game, Hernandez since 2007 against the Tigers was 9-0 with a 2.68 ERA in 11 starts, but tied his shortest outing of the season (May 2, Houston) . . . Chris Young goes for the Mariners in 10 a.m. PT Sunday series finale against the Tigers’ Robbie Ray (1-2, 5.31 ERA).