Michael Fulmer is the gift that keeps giving. Fresh from his eight game hiatus, Fulmer returned Friday night to absolutely torment the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tigers offense chipped away at Drew Smyly while Rays' manager Kevin Cash stared impassively into the distance, and eventually they broke through, cruising to a 10-2 victory.
Fulmer was incredible all night. He churned his way through the Rays' lineup like a human weedeater. Corey Dickerson managed to slap a single through Fulmer's legs for a single, but there wasn't a hard hit ball until Logan Morrison lined a single to centerfield in the seventh inning. Otherwise, Fulmer was unhittable.
Fulmer's fastball exploded on hitters with incredible life all night, and he featured heavy doses of the wicked changeup that vexed the Rays the last time they faced him. He needed just over 70 pitches to get through six, and, after a lengthy wait while the Tigers knocked Smyly out of the game, came back out for a smooth seventh.
He finished his outing having allowed a pair of hits and a walk, while punching out 10 batters on the night. The Rays never got a runner to second base.
At this point Michael Fulmer has to be the clear leader for the American League Rookie of the Year. He's been unbelievably good, and seeing him cut through the Rays a second time only emphasizes the power and depth of his stuff. The Tigers have the best young starter in the game right now, and it is sweet, my friends.
Meanwhile, the Tigers' offense struggled early on against Smyly. The former Tiger racked up eight strikeouts on the night, but even he could not suppress the mighty catalyst that is Cameron Maybin. Maybin got things going with a with a stolen base in the fourth, and rode home on an RBI double from Nick Castellanos. In the fifth, with Mike Aviles on third and Jose Iglesias on second, Maybin stroked a single to centerfield to drive them both in. All told it was a three-hit night for Maybin, with a walk and a stolen base, three runs and a pair of RBI.
The big blow came in the seventh, when Victor Martinez destroyed a 3-2 pitch off the catwalk high above the right field seats for a three-run shot that made it 7-0. It was Martinez' 15th bomb on the year. He wasn't done either, switching to the right-handed batters box and uncorking a second three-run shot in the ninth inning to turn this one into a laugher, if it wasn't already.
Shane Greene pitched a clean eighth inning. With the game blown open, manager Brad Ausmus continued his campaign to show the Tigers' front office that Mark Lowe is horrific. Lowe obliged, surrendering a two-run shot to Brad Miller in the bottom of the ninth. He managed to strike out a pair and escape with no further damage.
The Tigers have now won eight of their last eleven games. Unfortunately there were those three games against Cleveland, and the Indians just will not lose, taking their fourteenth in a row tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays in a 19-inning marathon.
Here's an abridged version of Fulmer's night.
Fulmer's back on the mound in the 7th. Here’s a look at his night so far: pic.twitter.com/O0k8m63mW4— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) July 2, 2016
Michael Fulmer: What else is left to say? Michael Fulmer has jumped almost directly from Double-A to the majors, and he's been one of the elite starters in the game in the first half. Unreal.
Victor Martinez: Just a pair of three-run missiles from both sides of the plate. A six RBI night for the Tigers' designated hitter.
Cameron Maybin: They just can't get him out. Whether he's setting the table or cleaning the dishes, Maybin has been spectacular.
NOPE-NOPE-NOPE...okay Mark Lowe.
STREAKS AND STATS:
With that, Fulmer becomes first Tigers starter since at least 1913 to allow one or no runs in eight consecutive starts.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 2, 2016
- Michael Fulmer hasn't allowed more than one earned run in an outing since May 15th, against the Baltimore Orioles.
- Mark Lowe has now allowed runs in 8 of his last 10 appearances.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: