ANAHEIM -- The visiting dugout at Angel Stadium is large enough that nobody has to feel crowded as a game is going on. Still, Michael Fulmer looked like he was in his own area code Wednesday.Fulmer's no-hit bid went deep enough into the Tigers' 3-0 win over the Angels that
ANAHEIM -- The visiting dugout at Angel Stadium is large enough that nobody has to feel crowded as a game is going on. Still, Michael Fulmer looked like he was in his own area code Wednesday.
Fulmer's no-hit bid went deep enough into the Tigers' 3-0 win over the Angels that teammates left him alone. His catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, was on the opposite end of the dugout. Coaches, reserves, fellow pitchers were all at the front.
Fulmer was on his own between innings, yet he had the same look he carried when he was crammed into the overcrowded Tigers clubhouse in Spring Training, arms on knees, head down, seemingly deep in concentration.
"I wouldn't say I need to be left alone," he said. "The more I interact, I feel like the more laughs I get, the more talking I do, it keeps me calm. I just take it as a normal day."
Still, Fulmer knew it wasn't normal.
"You look up there and you see a zero in the hits column, so obviously it's there," he said. "If anybody tells you they're not thinking about it, they're lying, in my opinion."
Fulmer's last few outings have been anything but normal for a 23-year-old rookie who can still count his Major League starts on his fingers. And his pitching has come a long way from that kid in Spring Training who was trying to win a bullpen spot.
"I don't know that I would've thought it would've gone this smoothly," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "especially his last three starts. I'm sure there'll be bumps down the road, but he's got great poise."
Fulmer has back-to-back outings of 7 2/3 scoreless innings, totaling five hits, three walks and 11 strikeouts. Add in his previous start against the Rays, and he has allowed a run on nine hits over 22 1/3 innings, walking four and striking out 22.
He has vaulted from Shane Greene's fill-in to the third-best starter in the Tigers' rotation. He not only has forced his way into a spot for the foreseeable future, but he's bringing reminders of rookies past.
"I don't really ever compare anybody or think about my rookie year," Justin Verlander said. "I'm just having fun watching somebody at the beginning of his career come out and dominate. It's fun to watch."
Fulmer held the Angels hitless until C.J. Cron's two-out single in the seventh. He needed just 26 pitches the first time through the order, and had just two three-ball counts through six innings. With late-afternoon shadows looming between the mound at the plate, he fired strikes at hitters, changed speeds, and didn't let up.
Fulmer used a high fastball at 96 mph to get Mike Trout on a check swing in the first inning, then sent him waving at a slider in the fourth. When Fulmer got a weak comebacker from Trout for the second out of the seventh, he was seven outs away.
Then came Cron, who flared a 1-2 fastball into right.
"Fastball away, and he got to it," Fulmer said. "He hit my best pitch, so hats off to him. But that didn't change anything. I still need to get the next guy out and put a zero up on the board. That's what we did."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.