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Detroit Tigers 4, Oakland A's 1 : Michael Fulmer was brilliant again

Michael Fulmer looks like the Tigers third best starter already.

Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics are teams going in different directions, yet both are seeking answers in their young starting pitchers. Two rookies tangled on Friday night in Oakland. Once again, Michael Fulmer was superb, building on his outing five days ago with another dominating performance to lead Detroit to a 4-1 victory.

Fulmer picked up right where he left off. He cruised through three innings with no trouble. The A's were aggressive and Fulmer had them off-balance all night,mixing his fastballs as the A's made soft contract early in counts. Meanwhile Manaea twice shut down the Tigers offense after they'd put runners in scoring position.

A Victor Martinez infield single, followed by a Nick Castellanos grounder that ricocheted off of third base had the Tigers with a fine scoring opportunity with no outs in the second inning. Justin Upton, Cameron Maybin and James McCann were blown away in turn to squander the chance.

In the fourth, the Tigers offense broke through. And they did it with great baserunning for once. After a sharp single from Upton, Cameron Maybin drilled a double into the right field corner. Upton raced all the way around from first to score. A bloop single from McCann followed and Maybin read it beautifully, scoring from second base with ease.

Fulmer responded with a 1-2-3 fourth, emphatically blowing away Danny Valencia with high heat to wrap up the inning. He came back out in the bottom of fifth and again got all three A's hitters with brutal efficiency. Fulmer wasn't getting a chance to strike anyone out. The A's were flailing at everything Fulmer offered and they just couldn't square him up with any consistency.

Nick Castellanos led off the sixth inning with a towering solo shot to left field. His tenth of the season gave Fulmer a three run lead to work with.

Fulmer had retired 11 batters in a row until a walk to Stephen Vogt with one out in the sixth. He got there in 70 pitches, easily running his four-seamer and sinker beyond 95 mph throughout his outing. The seventh inning saw a pair of groundballs to shortstop, a wild fastball that hit Jed Lowrie in the foot, and one shattered bat as Fulmer continued to pound A's hitters inside. While Khris Davis attempted to hit the ball into orbit, Fulmer coolly came back from a 2-1 count to dust Davis with raw power, ramping his fastball up to 97 mph.

Fulmer gave up a sharp single to Chris Coughlin with two outs in the eighth inning. Gene Lamont, subbing for manager Brad Ausmus, left Fulmer in to face Coco Crisp as he approached 100 pitches. With Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe furiously warming in the bullpen, Crisp cracked a ground-rule double to right field. Fulmer gave up the ball to Justin Wilson after 7.2 innings, three hits, three strikeouts, a walk, and no runs. Wilson struck out Billy Butler to escape the jam.

While he may have stayed in a batter too long, Fulmer was poised and lethal and has given the Tigers no choice but to keep him in the rotation. The A's were off-balance or swinging out of their shoes at ghosts all night long.

The Tigers tacked on a run in the top of the ninth when J.D. Martinez scored Ian Kinsler on a triple deep into the right field corner.

Francisco Rodriguez came on to close the game out in the ninth with his team up 4-0. His command was a little shaky. He surrendered a run on a Jed Lowrie triple that scored Danny Valencia. However he settled down and wrapped up the game on a strikeout and a ground ball.

ROARS:

Michael Fulmer: Another fine performance from Fulmer who has really kept the rotation afloat over the past week with two excellent starts when the Tigers really needed them. Fulmer is now 4-1 with a 3.97 ERA and looks very comfortable at the major league level.

Nick Castellanos: The Tigers third baseman punished a Sean Manaea offering deep into the seats for his tenth home run of the year. It was July 26th when he hit his tenth in 2015. He also had a single in the game.

Justin Wilson: It was only one batter, but the Tigers have struggled to strand runners for their starting pitchers in recent weeks. Wilson's strikeout of Billy Butler to end the eighth inning was the nail in the A's coffin.

Ian Kinsler: Back from an illness that apparently caused him to lose eight pounds in a week, Kinsler had himself a three hit night. The Tigers second baseman continues to be a force at the top of the lineup.

HISSES:

I've got nothing. This was a solid effort all around. Fulmer pitched great. The Tigers played fine defense. And they wore down A's pitching and kept adding on runs. K-Rod was shaky early, but settled down to strikeout a dangerous Khris Davis. He then got Yonder Alonso on a weak groundball to put a bow on a solid effort to open the road trip.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • Cameron Maybin's RBI double in the fourth extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
  • Ian Kinsler's three-hit performance gives him 19 multi-hit games already this year.
  • Michael Fulmer has allowed one run in his last 14.2 innings pitched.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs