The Detroit Tigers arrived at Safeco Park in Seattle with the opportunity to pick up a half-game on the idle Cleveland Indians. Hisashi Iwakuma had other ideas. Michael Fulmer battled through a tough start to produce yet another fine outing, but the bats were quiet as the Seattle Mariners cruised to a 3-0 victory.
Fulmer gave up solid contact in the first inning and was helped by a fantastic catch from Jose Iglesias way out in the left centerfield gap. In the second inning, things got dicey when Nelson Cruz doubled and came home on a Kyle Seager single. Catcher Mike Zunino later singled home Seager for a 2-0 lead, before Fulmer got a fine double play turn from Kinsler and Iglesias to escape a one-out jam.
Fulmer adapted by pitching inside a little more and leaning on his secondary pitches. He spun a clean third, but was already at 51 pitches on the night. It looked like a short outing was unfolding, but Fulmer would rebound as he so often has this season.
Hisashi Iwakuma came out wild, but settled into a groove in the early innings, mixing speeds and getting some help out in centerfield from Leonys Martin who ran down numerous solid flyballs off Tigers' bats. Iwakuma kept the offense off-balance with efficiency, getting a lot of soft contact in the air as well as on the ground. It only got worse as the Tigers recorded nine straight outs from the fourth through the sixth as Iwakuma racked up six strikeouts.
One of the more remarkable traits Michael Fulmer has displayed in his rookie campaign is his maturity. It was on display again Monday night. After two rough trips through the Mariners' order, Fulmer settled in and began to turn the tide. He picked up a few strikeouts along the way and ended the fifth with a fine fielding play on a Nori Aoki bunt down the third base line.
He rolled through the sixth, fighting through an eight pitch battle against Nelson Cruz before freezing him with a changeup at the top of the zone. Fulmer came back out for the seventh, which looked impossible early in the contest, and set the Mariners down in order again, dropping another impressive changeup to strikeout Adam Lind before quickly retiring Martin on a routine grounder with his 105th pitch of the night. Another extremely gutsy outing from Fulmer, who could probably use a break soon, and isn't likely to get one.
Arquimedes Caminero, newly acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates, set down the Tigers in the eighth. Brad Ausmus called on Mark Lowe in the bottom of the eighth and after recording the first two outs, the Tigers' punching bag surrendered a deep double to Nori Aoki, and Guillermo Heredia singled him home to make it 3-0.
Seattle brought on their closer Edwin Diaz, and that was all she wrote for the Tigers. Diaz went through Cabrera, Martinez and Martinez to wrap the opener of this three-game set.
Michael Fulmer: The rookie's incredible season continued in fine form. While he didn't have his best stuff early and the Mariners had good swings, Fulmer and Saltalamacchia adjusted and got better as the game went along. The ability to stay composed is a rare attribute in such an inexperienced pitcher, yet Fulmer never cracks.
Defense: While the bats were sour, the Tigers played a nice defensive game tonight. Iglesias made a beautiful play to bail out the outfield in the first, and Cabrera showied again the high quality of his throwing arm to turn a double play in the fourth after a diving stop.
The Tigers Offense: The offense missed a connecting flight to Seattle.
STREAKS AND STATS:
When you're SS shifted over against LH and you have to run 97 feet to catch that ball back over to left: (Iglesias) pic.twitter.com/3JE5BmWCUI
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) August 9, 2016
- This was the Tigers first back-to-back loss since July 24th.
- The Tigers had gone a month without being shut out, with the last such occurrence coming at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays on July 8th.
- Since his start on June 12th, Michael Fulmer has gone 10 starts and only once surrendered more than three runs in an outing.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: