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Fulmer hurt by homers in nightcap defeat

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer exchanged words with home-plate umpire Carlos Torres on his way out of Saturday night's 9-5 loss to the Mariners, as Robinson Cano's three-run homer in Fulmer's final pitch put Seattle in command. It was out of Fulmer's character, but a reflection of his frustration with the night, starting with a third-inning walk to former teammate Andrew Romine.

"I had zero problem with [Torres'] strike zone," Fulmer said. "I just wanted to figure out why he didn't know why he called a pitch a ball. He just asked if I was pinning those runs on him, and I said, 'Absolutely not.'"

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DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer exchanged words with home-plate umpire Carlos Torres on his way out of Saturday night's 9-5 loss to the Mariners, as Robinson Cano's three-run homer in Fulmer's final pitch put Seattle in command. It was out of Fulmer's character, but a reflection of his frustration with the night, starting with a third-inning walk to former teammate Andrew Romine.

"I had zero problem with [Torres'] strike zone," Fulmer said. "I just wanted to figure out why he didn't know why he called a pitch a ball. He just asked if I was pinning those runs on him, and I said, 'Absolutely not.'"

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Fulmer's downfall wasn't about strikes that were called balls. It came down to strikes that never reached catcher James McCann's mitt, thanks to a Mariners offense that cooled temporarily in Detroit's Game 1 victory, but heated up in the evening.

"My command was off all game," Fulmer said. "I have zero excuses. The way I feel right now, I feel healthy. I feel like my stuff's there. My sinker's moving. Velocity's there. I just have to get my command back. Three walks in a game is not going to cut it for me."

Video: SEA@DET: Fulmer fans Healy on questionable call

Fulmer (1-3), who allowed two runs or fewer in five of his first six starts, has yielded 11 runs in 10 innings over his last two outings, raising his ERA from 2.80 to 4.37. Five days after the Rangers strung together little hits for a big inning on him, the Mariners did their damage with home runs, a downfall similar to his early-April loss in Cleveland.

Fulmer allowed a Nelson Cruz RBI single in the opening inning, but took a 2-1 lead into the fourth before his outing unraveled. Fulmer had an 0-2 count on Ryon Healy before leaving back-to-back sliders up. Healy watched the first one but pummeled the second, sending a 425-foot drive to left-center field.

"On Healy's home run, we tried a little front-door slider that was up a little bit," Fulmer said. "I thought it caught the strike zone, but Carlos didn't think so. So we tried to go back there again, and [Healy] was all over it. It's just one mistake that he hit."

After back-to-back walks to Romine and Dee Gordon put Fulmer in trouble in the fifth, he struck out Mitch Haniger on a slider in the dirt before trying to go heavily with offspeed pitches to Cano.

"Changeups to Cano," Fulmer said. "Yanked one middle-in, right into his sweet spot. He hit it pretty far."

Cano, having seen three changeups in the four-pitch at-bat, timed it and watched his estimated 419-foot drive land in the seats in right-center.

That was it for Fulmer, with six runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings despite five strikeouts. Three seventh-inning runs off Daniel Stumpf put Seattle firmly in command.

"Just a little erratic tonight," McCann said of Fulmer. "He didn't quite have the same consistency as far as command, really for all of his pitches."

Mariners starter Felix Hernandez (5-3) wasn't dominant, allowing five runs in as many innings, but protected the lead despite John Hicks' two-run homer and a pair of RBI hits from Pete Kozma.

Video: SEA@DET: Hicks flies a 2-run home run to left-center

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
JaCoby Jones has long since demonstrated himself as the fastest baserunner on the Tigers, but he has become the most daring with Leonys Martin out. He took his aggressiveness to another level when he scored from first base on Kozma's soft line drive into shallow right field, challenging a startled Haniger as well as third-base coach Dave Clark, who signaled for him to stop at third before having to get out of Jones' way. Jones barely beat the tag, much like he did in Game 1, scoring from second on Haniger. Jones sped from first to home in 9.29 seconds, according to Statcast™, with a top sprint speed of 28.5 feet per second, just under his top speed for the season.

Video: SEA@DET: Jones scores from first on Kozma's single

"It's just instinct," Jones said. "Once [Haniger] paused, he had to restart and make a perfect throw."

GARDY EJECTED
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire picked up the 75th ejection of his career, and his second of the season, when Torres tossed him for arguing balls and strikes. Gardenhire was in the dugout when he was tossed with McCann at bat in the fifth inning. Gardenhire stormed out of the dugout, gesturing animatedly while having his say with Torres, before heading to the clubhouse. Bench coach Steve Liddle took over managerial duties.

Video: SEA@DET: Gardenhire gets tossed in the 5th inning

"I was just trying to get the same pitches called strikes for us that they were getting," McCann said.

"[Gardenhire] saw James and the umpire going back and forth," Liddle said, "and Gardy's going to protect the players. Not sure exactly what he said, but it was enough to send him on in."

UP NEXT
Blaine Hardy (0-0, 2.70) gets his first Major League start, stepping in for injured Jordan Zimmermann for Sunday's series finale against the Mariners as the Tigers try to spoil James Paxton's encore to his no-hitter from earlier in the week. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.

Jason Beckhas covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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