Fulmer bulldogs through eighth straight quality start

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It looked like it was going to be one of those nights for Tigers starter Michael Fulmer.

The Orioles strung together three hits off of him, two of them broken-bat singles, and scored a quick run in the second inning.

“I felt like my stuff was good,” said Fulmer, who had allowed just one run in each of his last two starts. “Fastball command was good, change-up was OK. But, a few broken bats, a few more broken bats, balls just finding holes. You can’t really ask for anything more out of your pitches.

“You know you are getting the ball in and you are getting weak contact for the most part.”

Fulmer would grind his way through seven innings, allowing a season-high 10 hits and four runs though only three were earned. But when all was said and done, he improved his record to 5-1 with his eighth straight quality start.

“Grind is probably a good word for it,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He gutted it out.”

The Tigers were down 4-2 in the fifth inning. Fulmer was at 82 pitches and seemingly hanging on by a thread — until Tyler Collins whacked a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, his second of the night.

That’s when Fulmer went bulldog. He gave up lead-off singles in both the sixth and seventh innings, but he got a double-play ball to end an eight-pitch sixth, and he blew through Adam Jones, Manny Machado and, with a runner on second, Chris Davis to end the seventh.

The Davis at-bat was special. With the tying run on second and Fulmer at 101 pitches, Ausmus came out for a chat. Davis bats left handed; right-handed hitting Trumbo was on deck.

“I knew he was going to tell me he was fine,” Ausmus said. “I wasn’t really looking for answers as much as I wanted him to be aware that if he got behind to Davis, don’t just lay one in there.”

Fulmer’s mind was set on the matter, though.

“I told Brad before he even got a word out of his mouth — I got him. I want him,” Fulmer said. “That faith he has in me to go after Davis there means the world to me. I hope I never let him down when he does that.”

Fulmer fell behind Davis 2-0 and did not back off.

“I figured it was my last batter so I gave it everything I had,” Fulmer said. “Brad said don’t give him anything good to hit, we’ve got first base open. What that said to me was, ‘We can always bring in one of the relievers.’

“I didn’t want to smartly pitch around him.”

Catcher James McCann called for three straight four-seam fastballs, which Fulmer pumped in at 97 mph. With the count 2-2, McCann called for a fourth.

“He came out and I said the last two four-seamers he swung at were a little off the plate,” Fulmer said. “So if he sees another one out there, he’s going to give up on it. So, let’s go with a front-door sinker here. He said, ‘I like it. Just don’t miss over the middle.’”

He didn’t. He locked up Davis, called strike three, end of inning.

“I was lucky enough to throw that pitch exactly how I wanted to,” Fulmer said. “And it froze him.”

It may not have been his cleanest outing of the season, but it was as impressive as any of them.

Twitter.com: @cmccosky