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Tigers’ Michael Fulmer continues to stalk perfection

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Michael Fulmer will not let up on himself — which is a good thing.

He’s coming off arguably his best start of the season Thursday in Anaheim where he went seven innings and allowed one run and three hits, with seven strikeouts.

Between starts, though, he perseverated over two, two-out walks he issued.

“Too many two-out walks, and one of them ended up scoring,” he said Tuesday. “So, I have to, especially with two strikes, learn to not lose focus and keep trying to attack hitters.”

He spent his between-starts bullpen session visualizing himself in hitter’s counts.

“Honestly, I worked on 2-0 fastballs, 3-1 fastballs — making pitches in hitter’s counts,” he said. “Just trying to catch the plate but with just enough movement to miss a barrel. There is always something to work on – be it with the fastball, slider or change-up.”

The Tigers’ pitching staff is at the top of the American League with 138 walks. Fulmer has walked 13.

“It’s tough,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not trying to walk people. I think guys are just trying to throw that perfect pitch and get that third strike. We have them 0-2 and then it goes 3-2 and end up walking them.

“I know I am just as responsible for that as anyone. You want to throw the put-away pitch that isn’t there and you end up throwing an un-swingable pitch. Collectively, we have to do a better job of throwing strikes, getting quick outs and going deeper in games.”

Walks, baserunners in general, are to be avoided against the reigning American League home-run kings, the Orioles.

“Yeah, all nine of their guys can hit home runs,” said Fulmer, who has allowed only four homers this season. “You don’t want anybody on base. Solo home runs aren’t going to kill you.”

Fulmer has been dominant in his last two starts — two earned runs allowed in 15 innings with 16 strikeouts, opponents hitting .196 off him with just two extra base hits. But…

“You can always try to be better, no matter what,” he said. “Until I have that perfect game, I am not perfect. And I don’t see that happening in the near future.”

Slow process

Outfielder Jim Adduci has never endured a muscle injury before; he’s not a fan.

“It’s getting better,” he said of his right oblique strain. “It’s just not going as fast as everyone would like.”

By everyone, do you mean you?

“Yes, I guess you can put it like that,” he said. “But it is getting better.”

He’s been on the 10-day disabled list for six days, so there is no timetable for his return. Though, typically, oblique strains can take as long as a month.

He is slowly easing into a treatment program and has just started working in the abdominal area.

About center field

For the time being, manager Brad Ausmus seems content with his current rotation in center field. Meaning, JaCoby Jones’ is going to stay at Triple-A Toledo for a while longer.

“We’re just going too mix and match,” he said. “Mikie Mahtook (who started against the Orioles on Tuesday) is going to get the bulk of the starts against left-handed pitching and either Andrew Romine or Tyler Collins will play against righties.

“We will just mix and match and see who is swinging the bat well and see who is defending well day to day.”

The offensive production will carry more weight than the defense, Ausmus said, because all three are relatively equal defensively.

“If there was a big gap in ability, defensively, it might be cut and dry, but I don’t think there is a huge gap between those guys,” he said. “If we had a premium defender in center field, we might put him out there against right-handed and left-handed starters. But I don’t think there is that much of a gap.”

Jones is the best defensive center fielder, Ausmus said, but he needs extended at-bats. Of the three, Romine is the best defender, though it’s marginal.

Around the horn

Two right-handed pitchers in the Tigers' minor-league system have been suspended for violating baseball's drug program. Tommy Collier, who has been at Double-A Erie, was suspended 100 games for his third violation of a drug of abuse (non-performance enhancing). Montreal Robertson, who was released by organization from Erie earlier this season, was fined 50 games for his second violation of a drug of abuse.

Twitter @cmccosky