Fulmer fells ump with heat sinking warm-up pitch
Denver — If it was possible to feel worse than Mike Everitt felt Tuesday night at Coors Field — and it wasn’t — Michael Fulmer was at least a contender.
“I felt terrible doing that,” Fulmer said, hours after he had so badly missed with a warm-up sinker that it missed Tigers catcher James McCann and smashed into the groin of Everitt, the appointed plate umpire in Tuesday’s game Tigers-Rockies game, which the Rockies won, 7-3.
“I’ve never done that before in my life,” Fulmer said. “I just hope he’s all right.”
After he was hit, Everitt bent in agony and shuffled down the third-base line as trainers and Everitt’s umpire partners rushed in.
Everitt caught his breath and headed for the clubhouse. He had an MRI that showed no lasting damage, all after he handed home-plate labors to Tom Woodring, who was supposed to be the game’s second-base ump, and who was now heading a three-man crew, with Bruce Dreckman at first base and Jordan Baker at third.
“All’s good,” Everitt said afterward, sitting at a table with Dreckman and Woodring as they dug into some postgame clubhouse fare.
“Praise God. Everything’s good.”
Tigers followers who insist a certain team from Detroit has the worst baserunners in baseball got no solace Tuesday night.
There were two more events, one of which was a pure gaffe, the other more of a debate.
The bungle belonged to Alex Presley in the first.
He had slapped a one-out single to right and was about to move to third when Justin Upton blooped a fly ball along the right-field line.
Gerardo Parra dived, but couldn’t quite snag it as the ball caromed off the turf and rolled a few feet away.
Upton, naturally, headed for second with a sure double. Until that is, he saw Presley hanging hear the bag.
Upton was tagged out and rather than having runners at second and third with one out, the Tigers had Presley chained to second with two gone.
“He messed up,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He over-thought it when he should have kept running.
“He owned up. He thought the ball hadn’t gotten that far away.”
A trickier call came in the seventh, with the score tied, 3-3. Nick Castellanos led off with a double to left-center and was in marvelous scoring shape for James McCann, who has been one of the team’s warmer hitters since mid-July.
McCann hit a chopper to shallow shortstop that, technically, was in front of Castellanos. The rule book says you stay put on any such ball that can just as easily be tossed to third for the putout.
Castellanos had a different thought. And, in Ausmus’ view, there was at least some validity there.
Castellanos headed for third. Rockies shortstop Trevor Story gloved the ball, pivoted to his right, and made a bull's-eye throw to Nolan Arenado who put the tag on a sliding Castellanos.
“It’s a risky play and he almost beat it,” Ausmus said. “It’s not cut and dry. But you don’t want to lose your runner that way.
“I don’t want to say it was a mistake as much as it was a good play.”
The innings odometer says 164⅔ innings. There is slightly more than a month remaining on the Tigers calendar.
It would be no surprise if the Tigers decided during September to throttle back on Fulmer’s workload, all in deference to a 24-year-old pitcher who a year ago worked 159 innings and whose talent and health are enormous assets.
But the Tigers tend to see Fulmer as being on pace to finish about where they would have ideally plotted his 2017 season.
“No, I don’t see any reason why he can’t go 200 innings,” Ausmus said after Tuesday’s game. “The general rule (for innings increases) is 25 percent. I’m not worried about his innings.”
Fulmer, with a 25-percent boost, would finish the year at 199 innings. That’s the rough equivalent of five more starts.
The Tigers have 31 remaining games. That places Fulmer in line for possibly six more starts.
It’s possible he could be given a rotation breather at some point. But for now, the Tigers see no reason for restrictions.