What was touted as a showdown between Michael Fulmer and Rick Porcello turned out pretty one-sided. Porcello returned to Comerica Park and handled the Tigers convincingly, while Fulmer suffered one of his worst outings of the year. The Red Sox evened the series by winning 10-2, pushing the Tigers further behind in the wild card chase.
In 7 2/3 innings in Boston last month, Fulmer surrendered multiple home runs for just the second time all season. It took the Red Sox only six batters on Friday night to make it three times, launching a pair of two-run shots to take an early 4-0 lead.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the second, although they were helped by some shaky infield defense. After Victor Martinez safely reached first base on an error, J.D. Martinez drilled a two-run shot of his own to narrow the deficit to two.
Fulmer settled down after the rocky first inning, allowing just two hits over the next four frames. He did give up some harder contact, but he was able to prevent the Red Sox from adding to their lead. Though the Tigers did put a couple runners on in the fourth inning, Porcello was also able to work his way out of trouble.
Boston come up with a two-out rally in the sixth inning, stringing together four straight singles to bring home two more runs. Fulmer exited the game down 6-2 and gave way to Bruce Rondon who ended the threat. However, the Red Sox came out swinging in the top of the seventh against Rondon, scoring twice to make it 8-2.
As he has done many times season, Porcello delivered a great start. The Tigers could not get any substantial offense going and struck out eight times against him. Porcello’s night ended after seven innings and just two runs.
Mark Lowe came on in the eighth and predictably gave up a couple more Boston runs, increasing the deficit to 10-2. Kyle Ryan relieved him and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. Detroit went scoreless against the Red Sox bullpen in the last two frames, whimpering their way to an eight-run defeat.
J.D. Martinez: J.D. drove home the only runs of the night for the Tigers and is hitting over .400 with five dingers since his return from the disabled list.
Michael Fulmer: The rookie did a good job of settling down after a rough first inning, but he ultimately gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings. Fulmer will get a couple of extra days of rest before making his next start.
1-4 hitters: The burden for the top of the lineup is larger with so many replacement players at the bottom of the order, but they dropped the ball tonight, going 0-for-13.
Bruce Rondon and Mark Lowe: Expectations were not very high when either reliever entered the game, but the results were still not pretty.
STATS AND REACTIONS:
- The Red Sox have a good offense and they hit Fulmer hard. The homers came from pitches in the middle of the plate, and he was not exactly unlucky to give up a career high in runs. That being said, he did impressively retire 12 of the next 13 batters, which is not something that a lot of young starters are able to do after getting lit up to start the game.
- Cameron Maybin, Nick Castellanos, and Jose Iglesias are out of the lineup with injuries, but does anyone know where Ian Kinsler has gone? There is no real reason to worry about Kinsler, but going 3-for-27 during the past week has certainly not helped the struggling offense.
- Speaking of the offense, the bats have been irritatingly quiet as of late. Injuries are definitely part of it, but there are enough big names in the lineup to expect more runs to cross the plate. Over the past two weeks the Tigers have a bottom-five offense in terms of wRC+. Porcello pitched well, but the offense’s issues started way before tonight.
- In the standings, the Tigers fall to 4 1/2 games behind the Red Sox and seven games behind Cleveland. On the field, they hardly look a playoff team right now. When completely healthy they can — and should — be much more competitive, but at that point it may be too late.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: