Zimmermann expects to bounce back Tuesday

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News
Jordan Zimmermann of the Tigers is pulled by manager Brad Ausmus during the fifth inning against the Blue Jays at Comerica Park.

Chicago – Brad Ausmus didn’t hesitate.

“I think it was just a blip,” he said.

Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who will start in the second game of this series Tuesday, is coming off his worst start of the season. He was tagged for seven runs and eight hits in 4⅔ innings against the Blue Jays.

It didn't cause a ripple of worry in the Tigers clubhouse.

“Rarely do I have two bad games in a row,” Zimmermann said Monday. “Not saying it’s not going to happen, but hopefully I will have a good game tomorrow.”

One bad start certainly is nothing to fret over. But he hasn’t pitched beyond 5⅔ innings in his last four starts – even though the Tigers are 3-1 in those games. His ERA is 7.02 in that stretch and opponents are hitting .327 with a .873 OPS.

It’s a far cry from his first five starts when his ERA was 0.55 and opponents were hitting .224 with a .537 OPS.

“Everything is fine,” Zimmermann said. “I feel good. I just need to mix up my pitches a little more and maybe throw a few more curveballs. That’s about it.”

He said he didn’t make any mechanical adjustments or work on anything specific between starts.

“No, it’s all about executing pitches,” he said. “I didn’t do that in the last start. That’s basically it. I left a couple over the middle and they hit them out.”

Fulmer's feats

There is seemingly no end to historical significance of Michael Fulmer’s stingy ways over his last five starts.

For example, he is the first rookie to throw four straight shutouts since Grover Alexander – in 1911.

Zimmermann expects to bounce back Tuesday

Fulmer is riding a consecutive scoreless innings streak of 28⅓going back to the seventh inning of his start against Tampa Bay on May 21. That is the longest streak in the majors this season and the second longest by a Tigers rookie behind John Hiller’s 28⅔ innings streak in 1967. 

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Fulmer's streak is the longest by a rookie starter since Orel Hershiser threw 32.0 straight scoreless innings in 1984.

Also researched by Elias, his run of four starts of six or more scoreless innings with three or less hits allowed has been matched only by the Cubs Jake Arriett since since 1893, when the mound was moved out to 60 feet, 6 inches away from the plate.

Pretty heady stuff, though you’d never know it by talking to Fulmer.

“I’m just trying to go out, give my team a chance to win and put up zeros while I am at it,” he said.

Cuban love

Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias was excited about the news that his friend and countryman Yulieski Gourriel had been granted free agency and was about to signed to play in the Major Leagues.

“He was a big star in Cuba,” Iglesias said. “I had a chance to play in the Cuban All-Star Game with him. We are tight friends. I am really happy for him.”

Gourriel, 32, played 14 years in Cuba and one in Japan. He plays third base and second base and has power. He’s hit 250 career home runs. His career batting average is .335 with a .417 on-base percentage and .580 slugging percentage.

The Dodgers have reportedly shown the most interest in signing him.

“I don’t think he will have any trouble (adjusting to the big leagues),” Iglesias said. “He’s a really good player.”

Talking bullpen

With the emergence of Shane Greene as a late-inning set-up man (17 batters faced, 10 strikeouts), you might think Mark Lowe is the odd-man out.

That is not the case, according to Ausmus.

“The truth is, if we can get Mark Lowe going in the direction he was going last year, or anywhere close to that, then our bullpen becomes formidable, quite frankly,” he said. “If we have Lowe, Greene, Justin Wilson and K-Rod (Francisco Rodriguez), that’s four guys for the last three innings – you’d feel pretty good about that.”