What started out as a quiet offensive day and a decent if inconsistent start for Michael Fulmer finished as an eighth-inning comeback after the bullpen blew a four-run lead. Four walks and an RBI double put Detroit back in the lead with two outs, and the Tigers walked away with a 6-5 win over the Red Sox.
The offense couldn’t get going in the first and sixth even when it looked like Steven Wright might succumb to his own wonky command. It turned around when Tyler Collins singled and James McCann blasted a two-run home run to left off of Wright, knocking him from the game. But with the bullpen’s collapse, they would need to muster a walkabout comeback eighth.
As for Fulmer, he started his Friday with back-to-back strikeouts and put forth an easy second inning. Only two batters in, his fastball was topping out at 98 mph (though that’s somewhat off because of adjustments to TV radar guns), so it was closer to 97. Still, he brought the heat early and often and wasn’t afraid to attack hitters.
For the next three innings, though, Fulmer had to work to keep runs off the board, and his command struggles included a bases-loaded situation in the third. He retired five of the last six batters but there were issues until that point. His pitching would be the highlight on the mound since the Tigers’ bullpen collapsed in the eighth, giving up late crucial run support.
Victor Martinez: Drove in the first two runs for the Tigers, the first on a sacrifice fly in the first and the latter on an RBI single in the sixth. He also drew a two-out walk in the eighth that led to the Tigers getting their lead back.
Michael Fulmer: Gave up no runs and struck out four across six innings pitched despite some command issues.
James McCann: Gave Detroit a 4-0 lead at the time with a two-run homer against Wright in the seventh inning.
Eighth inning: Mikie Mahtook capitalized on the two-on, two-out chance with an RBI double ripped down the left field line to tie the game. He was pinch running for Tyler Collins, who was 2-for-3 at that point in the game.
Tigers offense: Had just two hits across five innings and hit into multiple double plays despite Steven Wright’s shaky start.
Tigers bullpen: Bruce Rondon walked a batter and a stolen base, then gave up back-to-back hits, the latter of which was a double to put runners on second and third base. Alex Wilson, who relieved Rondon, promptly gave up an RBI single before striking out Sandy Leon. Francisco Rodriguez, asked to get a four-out save, gave up a three-run homer to Pablo Sandoval and put the Tigers in a hole.
STREAKS AND INFO:
- The Tigers’ purchased attendance of 45,013 marked the sixth-highest Opening Day attendance in Comerica Park history, and the seventh-most all-time.
- James McCann went 16 games (59 plate appearances) in 2016 before hitting his first home run, a two-run shot to deep left off of left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly. Friday’s dinger happened in Game 3 against a righty.
- Miguel Cabrera still doesn’t have a hit to start the season. He’s 0-for-10 with three strikeouts and three walks, one intentional.