Starting pitchers always want to last nine innings, so David Price's statement that his goal is to go deep into Game 3 of this American League Division Series isn't groundbreaking.
But left unsaid was this: He very likely has to go deep for the Tigers -- who trail the Orioles two games to none in the best-of-five series -- to have any chance of staying alive.
That's because the Tigers' bullpen, primarily Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria, was ineffective in the first two games. The duo took a flamethrower to a close game in an eight-run eighth inning in the Tigers' 12-3 loss in Game 1, then blew Game 2, combining to allow four runs in the eighth in Detroit's 7-6 come-from-ahead loss.
"I would love to go out there and give everybody in the bullpen a day off and get 27 outs," Price said Saturday after the Tigers' workout at Comerica Park. "But if that's not the case, I still have a ton of confidence in the guys that are coming in after me."
Price, 15-12 with a 3.26 ERA this season, including 4-4 with a 3.59 ERA in 11 starts after the Rays dealt him to the Tigers at the trade deadline, might be the only one who feels that way.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus certainly didn't exude confidence in the group when asked about using the same relievers -- primarily meaning Chamberlain and Soria -- if things are close late in Game 3.
"We will have to wait and see what happens in the game tomorrow," Ausmus said. "I invite you to come down and watch it."
As bad as the bullpen has been the first two games, however, the Tigers' vaunted rotation didn't live up to its billing in the first two games. Neither Max Scherzer (five runs in 71/3 innings) nor Justin Verlander (three runs in five innings) pitched particularly well, putting more stress on a bullpen that hadn't been very good to begin with.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter wasn't much interested in exploring the difficulties of Detroit's bullpen in the first two games or discussing whether his team has made it a priority to get to the relievers early in Game 3.
"No, I'm not going to reflect on somebody else's abilities or what have you," Showalter said. "They won the American League Central and they did some really good things with all their players. I've said before, when this thing is over, the team that wins is going to have weaknesses and the teams that are eliminated are going to have strengths."
The Orioles' strengths -- their power and bullpen -- were in evidence in Games 1 and 2. They hit three home runs in the two games and their relievers allowed two runs in 91/3 innings.
The Orioles entered the series as underdogs but now stand as overwhelming favorites to move on.
"We have to keep our foot on the gas pedal," first baseman Steve Pearce cautioned. "They're a good team and we don't want to let them back in it."