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Indians 11, Tigers 4: Michael Fulmer is human after all

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Justin Upton homered twice but it wasn’t enough to beat the Tribe.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After a lackluster homestand against the Orioles and Twins, the Detroit Tigers entered Cleveland on Friday in need of wins. This scenario was not ideal, considering the Tigers were 1-11 against the Indians entering Friday’s game, and the result — an 11-4 loss that didn’t even feel that close — was not a surprising one.

Unfortunately, this was not Michael Fulmer’s best game. The rookie phenom gave up a lot of hard contact in the first inning, leading to the Indians’ first two runs. After Carlos Santana led off the game with a deep flyout to the warning track, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor reached base on sharp singles. Lindor then stole second, and both runners scored on a fly ball off the bat of Mike Napoli. Justin Upton lost the ball in the lights, and it bounced off the warning track and into the seats for a ground rule double.

The Indians scored two more runs in the second, stringing together a series of singles to score Tyler Naquin and Abraham Almonte. The inning could have even ended worse for Detroit, but Fulmer settled down to retire Kipnis and Lindor with a runner in scoring position. Fulmer looked like he was going to get through five or six innings after a pair of scoreless frames in the third and fourth, but gave up a deep two-run homer to Napoli, which stretched Cleveland’s lead to 6-1.

Upton redeemed his early gaffe with a pair of homers. He hit a solo shot to right-center in the second to bring the Tigers within one, then hit a three-run homer in the sixth to cut a 6-1 deficit to two runs. Upton’s heroics were not enough, though. The rest of the Tigers offense managed just three hits against Indians starter Corey Kluber, who was sharper than his final line suggested. The Tigers didn’t have many scoring chances outside of Upton’s two homers, though they did squander a leadoff double from Andrew Romine in the seventh.

As has been the case throughout the season, the Tigers’ defense failed them at inopportune times against the Tribe. Upton’s non-error in the first inning cost the Tigers a run, and a Maybin throwing error in the sixth allowed Naquin to score on a shallow sacrifice fly. The Tigers were also called for two balks of dubious quality, the second of which led to another Tribe run in the seventh. Miguel Cabrera contributed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt in the bottom of the eighth, leading to Cleveland’s ninth run.

ROARS:

Justin Upton: He goofed in the first inning when he lost a deep fly ball in the lights, but more than made up for it with a pair of home runs and four RBI later in the game.

HISSES:

Michael Fulmer: He was nickeled and dimed at times, but this game was not one to remember for Fulmer. He gave up six runs on seven hits, including a two-run homer to Mike Napoli that loomed large after the Tigers put together a small rally later in the game.

Cameron Maybin: He was one of several Tigers players to go without a hit, but Maybin’s throwing error in the bottom of the sixth was costly.

Pretty much everyone else: Yeah, this game didn’t go well.

STATS AND REACTIONS:
  • I don’t understand why the Tigers are still challenging Mike Napoli with high fastballs. Yes, he will chase them every so often, but he is having a good enough season that even slight mistakes are getting demolished.
  • Speaking of mistakes, Michael Fulmer made plenty tonight. He was always going to regress from the lights out form he showed mid-season, but the Tigers needed better in this game.
  • Balks are dumb.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:

Source: FanGraphs