Michael Fulmer has been a revelation for the Detroit Tigers this season, and nothing changed on Friday night. Unfortunately, Salvador Perez took it as his personal mission to end the streak and break the Tigers' bullpen. The Tigers couldn't handle Yordano Ventura, and the Royals evened up the four-game series with a 10-3 victory.
Fulmer didn’t have his sharpest command on Friday night, but once again he had stuff to burn. He racked up five strikeouts through five innings. In the process he extended the franchise record for scoreless innings by a rookie to 33.1. However, he also surrendered four free passes and five hits.
The Royals came out hacking at Fulmer's fastball, but it didn't take long for he and catcher James McCann to adjust. The tandem moved to a heavy dose of breaking balls, particularly first-pitch, and the Royals were quickly knocked off balance again.
Fulmer managed to pitch out of trouble when he had to, particularly in the third inning. With a runner on first, and no outs, Fulmer laid out trying, and failing, to snare a popped up bunt down the third base line. He came up in apparent discomfort, but shook it off and returned to the mound. The jam seemed to have Fulmer's streak in serious danger, but once again Fulmer showed a remarkable knack for composing himself and escaped without surrendering a run.
The Tigers' rookie quickly settled back down and cruised through the fourth and fifth inning with no trouble. In the sixth, the magic finally come undone via a slider that Salvador Perez crushed out of the park to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. The two-out shot ended Fulmer's run at a spectacular 33.1 scoreless innings. As his pitch count climbed beyond 90 pitches, Fulmer issued a pair of walks and his night ended on a bit of a sour note after another outstanding performance.
Not to worry though. Shane Greene continued to look great out of the bullpen. He put down Brett Eibner with a truly evil slider away to preserve Fulmer's line and keep the Tigers just one run down.
They were down by a run, because Yordano Ventura was doing Fulmer one better. The Tigers banged out a few hits, but couldn't push anyone across the plate. The Tigers were flailing at Ventura's wicked curveball and couldn't square up the heat either. The hard-throwing right-hander scattered five Tigers hits along with four strikeouts through six innings of work.
The Tigers finally chased him in the seventh. Victor Martinez led off the inning with a single that Lorenzo Cain completely booted. The gift left a hobbling Martinez at second base. After Ventura carved up Nick Castellanos, Justin Upton reached first on a throwing error by third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert. Ventura's night ended in the midst of the first trouble he'd seen all night.
Ned Yost went to Kelvin Herrera to stifle the rally. He did so, but not before a wild pitch to the backstop gave Victor Martinez a perfect opportunity to score from third. The Tigers' DH was clearly running in some pain, and after coming halfway down the line he second guessed himself and retreated back to third. Martinez' knee is going to be an ongoing source of terror for the Tigers' fanbase. Herrera got James McCann after a 10-pitch battle and the Royals escaped the Tigers only scoring opportunity to that point.
Ok, now we could worry. The Royals immediately got back to work extending their lead. Shane Greene finally proved mortal, giving up a pair of base runners followed by a single to Eric Hosmer that made it 2-0. Mark Lowe came on, and yeah, you know what that means. Lowe allowed everyone to score, etc., etc.
In the end it didn't matter a bit as Blaine Hardy came on in the eighth and looked as bad as we've ever seen him. By the time his inning was over, the Royals led 10-0, and Tigers' fans could mercifully give up on this one entirely. All they missed was a solo shot from Miguel Cabrera and a two-run rocket off the bat of Justin Upton to give this one the appearance of a ball game.
HOT DAMN MICHAEL FULMER pic.twitter.com/rJJ7NqO33D— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) June 18, 2016
Michael Fulmer: Just an incredible run from Fulmer. While he finally surrendered a run, the rookie continues to show outstanding stuff and composure well beyond his years. 5.2 innings, five strikeouts, just one earned run.
Miguel Cabrera: Cabrera had no runners to drive in tonight but himself, as the big man went deep for a solo shot in the ninth inning. A three-hit night for the Tigers' slugger.
Mark Lowe: The Tigers' big free agent signing in the bullpen has been a debacle. His stuff looks weak, and his location isn't any better. Nuff' said.
Blaine Hardy: Where have you gone, Blaine Hardy? Another horrendous outing for Hardy, who looks about as useful as Lowe does this season. Five earned runs in an inning of work let everyone go to bed early, at least.
The Offense: 13 LOBsters on the night as the offense couldn't handle Ventura or the Royals bullpen.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Jose Iglesias' hitting streak came to a halt at 14 games.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: