Michael Fulmer took a beating and the feeble Tigers offense had no answer for Gerrit Cole, falling 9-1 on Saturday.
Things started out badly, and only got worse for Michael Fulmer in this one. A Yuli Gurriel sac fly plated the Astros first run in the first inning. Nicholas Castellanos made a pointless throw wide of home plate rather than hit the cutoff man, allowing Jose Altuve to advance to second. He would likely have scored anyway on Josh Reddick’s RBI double shortly thereafter, but from second base he was able to waltz home with the game-winning run.
It only got worse from there. James McCann didn’t help matters as he was consistently unable to stick well located fastballs at the bottom of the zone for strikes. Still, Fulmer just had no swing-and-miss to his game against a strong Astros lineup. He probably should’ve stuck with his fourseamer, as his changeup and slider were mauled again and again by Astros’ hitters. They were clearly spitting on the fastball early in counts and hunting offspeed, but neither McCann nor Fulmer made an adjustment.
Back-to-back home runs by Josh Reddick and Evan Gattis, off a slider and a changeup, respectively, ended Fulmer’s outing in the fifth. He allowed seven runs total, lasting only 4 2⁄3 innings pitched and recording just two strikeouts.
Meanwhile the offense was just helpless against Gerrit Cole, with the exception of Castellanos, who had a two-hit game. He scored on a James McCann RBI double in the sixth for the Tigers only run. They accounted for all of the Tigers three hits.
Blaine Hardy was solid in cleaning up the fifth and then the sixth for Fulmer. Buck Farmer allowed a two-run shot to Tyler White in the seventh, while Joe Jimenez pitched a perfect eighth just to get some work. There was no Tigers player of the game in this one. It was a feeble effort against a drastically better organization.
The Tigers face Justin Verlander on Sunday. They’ll welcome in the red-hot Boston Red Sox after the All-Star break. Don’t expect things to get better for a while yet.