FINAL: TIGERS 7, ROYALS 3
Michael Fulmer was lights out Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park as he nearly tossed a complete game shutout and led the Tigers to a 7-3 win in the rubber match with Kansas City.
Fulmer had the stuff no-hitters are made of for most of the game. The Royals got their first hit of the game on a Ramon Torres bloop single in the fourth inning. Kansas City didn't threaten to score until the ninth, when they picked up two more singles with two outs before Drew Butera broke up the shutout with a two-RBI double to left field. On what should have been the third and final out of the game, Justin Upton dropped a line drive in left field that brought a third run across the plate.
That's when Brad Ausmus came out to the mound with a chorus of boos raining down on him from the Comerica Park crowd and took Fulmer out of the game.
Justin Wilson struck out Brandon Moss to end the game.
Fulmer struck out seven and didn't issue a single walk over nine innings and 104 pitches.
The Tigers offense delivered behind Fulmer (finally). Justin Upton had a three-run bomb in the first inning, while Ian Kinsler and Andrew Romine delivered long balls of their own as the Tigers left little doubt about today's result.
It was a big win for the Tigers, who need to take baby steps on their way back to relevance. Heading into a four-game series this weekend with the Indians, a series win against Kansas City was a must.
Tomorrow's matchup: Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 6.75) vs. Josh Tomlin (4-9, 6.09).
Bottom 8th: Tigers 7, Royals 0
Nick Castellanos flew out to right field, Mikie Mahtook grounded out to third and Andrew Romine struck out swinging as the Tigers went down in order in the 8th against old friend Neftali Feliz.
Top 8th: Tigers 7, Royals 0
Mike Moustakas notched the Royals fourth hit of the day with a one-out rocket down the right field line, but for the third time today, Michael Fulmer was able to get an inning-ending double play.
Brandon Moss became Fulmer's seventh strikeout victim of the day to leadoff the inning.
Fulmer's pitch count is at 84 heading to the ninth.
Bottom 7th: Tigers 7, Royals 0
On the 15th pitch he saw from Kansas City reliever Kevin McCarthy, J.D. Martinez delivered a two-out single to left that puts the Tigers up 7-0 in the seventh.
Ian Kinsler worked a leadoff walk from McCarthy. After Alex Avila struck out swinging, Justin Upton notched a single through the middle of the diamond to put two men on for Miguel Cabrera, who flew out to center field to set up the J.D. Martinez at-bat.
Top 7th: Tigers 6, Royals 0
Jorge Bonifacio grounded out to shortstop, Lorenzo Cain did the same and Eric Hosmer grounded out to first as Michael Fulmer put together a second consecutive 8-pitch inning that leaves his pitch count at an astounding 67 through seven innings.
Bottom 6th: Tigers 6, Royals 0
Nick Castellanos drew a one-out walk, but the Tigers weren't able to do anything with it, as Mikie Mahtook struck out swinging and Andrew Romine grounded out to first to end the frame.
Royals starter Jake Junis has, somewhat amazingly made it through six innings despite his early struggles. His pitch count is up to an even 100, so he's probably done for the day.
Victor Martinez flew out to left field to leadoff the inning.
Top 6th: Tigers 6, Royals 0
Alex Gordon hit a rocket off the right knee of Michael Fulmer with two outs to notch the Royals' third hit of the day. After a visit from the training staff, Fulmer stayed in the game and got Ramon Torres to strike out swinging to end the frame.
Fulmer's pitch count is at 59 after that 8-pitch frame. Assuming nothing swells up on him in between innings, he has set himself up nicely for a long outing today.
Jorge Soler grounded out to third and Alcides Escobar grounded out to shortstop to leadoff the inning.
Bottom 5th: Tigers 6, Royals 0
Justin Upton struck out swinging, Miguel Cabrera grounded out to shortstop and J.D. Martinez grounded out to first as the Tigers went quietly against Royals starter Jake Junis in the fifth.
Top 5th: Tigers 6, Royals 0
Eric Hosmer reached on an infield single to leadoff the fifth, but Michael Fulmer did what Michael Fulmer does, getting Salvador Perez to strike out swinging before inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of Mike Moustakas.
Fulmer is on cruise control at this point. The only hits he's allowed were a bloop single and Hosmer's infield single. Fulmer's pitch count is in outstanding shape at 51.
Bottom 4th: Tigers 6, Royals 0
Andrew Romine went deep for his third home run of the season and the Tigers third long ball of the day with a two-run shot to right field that puts the Tigers up 6-0 in the fourth inning.
Ian Kinsler grounded out to third and Alex Avila struck out swinging to end the frame.
Mikie Mahtook set up the Romine bomb with a one-out, infield single.
Nick Castellanos flew out to right field to leadoff the inning.
Top 4th: Tigers 4, Royals 0
Ramon Torres broke up the party that was Michael Fulmer's hot start with a single to left field that made him the first Royals hitter to reach base today.
The good vibes didn't last long for Kansas City, as Fulmer induced a double play off the bat of Jorge Bonifacio. Lorenzo Cain flew out to right field to end the frame.
So the perfect game/no-hitter isn't going to happen, but Fulmer is still cooking. He's thrown just 40 pitches through the first four innings.
Bottom 3rd: Tigers 4, Royals 0
Ian Kinsler took advantage of a strong wind out to left field and was able to hit a solo home run just over the outstretched glove of Alex Gordon in left field, putting the Tigers up 4-0.
Alex Avila struck out looking and Justin Upton flew out to center field. Miguel Cabrera notched his second hit of the day with a single down the right field line. J.D. Martinez followed with a walk, but Victor Martinez grounded out to second to end the frame.
Top 3rd: Tigers 3, Royals 0
Jorge Soler flew out to center field, Alcides Escobar struck out swinging and Alex Gordon struck out looking as Michael Fulmer has breezed through the Royals lineup the first time through the order.
Fulmer has thrown just 30 pitches through the first three frames. He's got four strikeouts and has set down the first nine hitters he's faced today.
Bottom 2nd: Tigers 3, Royals 0
Nick Castellanos grounded out to third, Mikie Mahtook flew out to center field and Andrew Romine flew out to left field as Kansas City starter Jake Junis bounced back from a rough first inning.
Top 2nd: Tigers 3, Royals 0
Eric Hosmer grounded out to third, Salvador Perez struck out swinging and Mike Moustakas popped up to third as Michael Fulmer set the Royals down in order for the second consecutive inning.
Fulmer has thrown just 19 pitches through the first two frames and looks like he's in complete control of all of his pitches in the early going.
Bottom 1st: Tigers 3, Royals 0
Justin Upton got himself into a hitter-friendly count and ended an 0-for-8 stretch with a HUGE blast over the Kansas City bullpen in left-center field to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
That dinger is the 15th of the season for Upton.
Ian Kinsler led things off with a single to right field and Alex Avila worked a walk to set the table for Upton.
Miguel Cabrera followed with a single through the left side of the infield, but the Tigers couldn't keep up the hot start, as J.D. Martinez struck out swinging and Victor Martinez grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Top 1st: Tigers 0, Royals 0
Ramon Torres struck out looking, Jorge Bonifacio fouled out behind the plate and Lorenzo Cain grounded out to third as Michael Fulmer breezed through an 11-pitch opening frame.
Now it's time for the Tigers offense to go to work for their young pitcher.. They've been brutal behind Fulmer this season.
ROYALS AT TIGERS
First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Thursday, Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
Records: The Tigers are 34-43, fourth place in the American League Central Division, seven games behind the Cleveland Indians. The Royals are 38-38, third place in the AL Central, 2.5 games behind the Indians.
1. Ramon Torres, 2B
2. Jorge Bonifacio, RF
3. Lorenzo Cain, CF
4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
5. Salvador Perez, C
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Jorge Soler, DH
8. Alcides Escobar, SS
9. Alex Gordon, LF
SP: Jake Junis, RHP
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Alex Avila, C
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. J.D. Martinez, RF
6. Victor Martinez, DH
7. Nick Castellanos, 3B
8. Mikie Mahtook, CF
9. Andrew Romine, SS
SP: Michael Fulmer, RHP