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Tigers squander 4-run lead, fall to Rangers

After cruising through five innings, Fulmer runs into trouble in sixth
May 7, 2018

ARLINGTON -- The names on the jerseys have changed through the years, but this much remains true for the Tigers: No lead is completely safe in Texas.Michael Fulmer had allowed one hit and one other ball out of the infield through 21 batters and was protecting a four-run advantage in

ARLINGTON -- The names on the jerseys have changed through the years, but this much remains true for the Tigers: No lead is completely safe in Texas.
Michael Fulmer had allowed one hit and one other ball out of the infield through 21 batters and was protecting a four-run advantage in the bottom of the sixth inning. Three batters and three hits later, he was gone. Another batter later, so was Detroit's lead, setting off a back-and-forth duel that ended with a 7-6 loss to the Rangers on Monday night at Globe Life Park.
It was a rough night that became tougher when the Tigers placed Jordan Zimmermann and Alex Wilson on the 10-day disabled list after the game.
"The ballgame, I think we all saw it: We had a lead with Fulmer, then just couldn't hold it," Gardenhire said. "We just didn't make the plays we needed to make to win that ballgame, and that's the bottom line."
The way Fulmer was pitching left few if any difficult plays for the defense to make early, aside from a diving catch from Leonys Martin in the first inning that began a highlight night for him.

While the Tigers built an early lead thanks to a Victor Martinez two-run single and Martin's two-run homer, Fulmer essentially overpowered an injury-depleted Rangers lineup with a heavy dose of fastballs that topped out at 97 mph.

Not only was Nomar Mazara's second-inning solo homer the only damage off Fulmer through five innings, it was the last ball Fulmer allowed to reach the outfield until the sixth. He retired 12 of 14 batters after the home run, striking out six of them, including the bottom third of the Rangers' lineup in order in a dominant fifth inning.

Fulmer's roll through the fifth brought back memories of his four-hit shutout here two years ago, his first complete game. His pitch count would've left him hard-pressed to go the distance Monday, but he was rolling, even after a four-pitch walk to open the sixth.
"I just lost it," Fulmer said. "I felt like the first five innings, I could throw the ball where I wanted to, when I wanted to. All three pitches felt great. Leadoff walks will always kill you, and they strung some hits together, but I felt my stuff was the best it's been all year for the first five innings. I really don't know what to say for the sixth."
Perhaps pitching out of the stretch pulled Fulmer out of his rhythm after the leadoff walk. Or maybe the third time through the order gave hitters a better look against him. But things changed quickly in the sixth..
Mazara's homer came off a Fulmer slider. The right-hander then walked the lefty slugger in the fourth inning. With a 1-1 count against Mazara in the sixth, one out away from escape, Fulmer went back to the slider.
The resulting single put runners at the corners before Joey Gallo and Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit back-to-back doubles to plate three runs and chase Fulmer from the game. Once Kiner-Falefa scored from second on an infield single, the game was tied.
The game turned on defensive miscues from there. Mazara misplayed a Jose Iglesias fly ball just inside the right-field line to score JaCoby Jones in the top of the seventh, but Iglesias' two-out error set up the Rangers' answer in the bottom half. Shin-Soo Choo's grounder squirted past Dixon Machado into right field for a game-tying run before Jurickson Profar's triple off Daniel Stumpf (1-2) put Texas up for good.
Heads-up running: A day after the Tigers' infield defense gave up two uncontested stolen bases in Kansas City against the infield shift, the Rangers' game-tying run was scored on another alert baserunning play. First baseman John Hicks, filling in for injured Jose Cabrera, did not have a play at first base on Ronald Guzman's grounder. While he held the ball, though, he did not look back Kiner-Falefa, who took third base and kept going. Hicks' hurried throw home went wide of catcher James McCann.

Though Leonys Martin returned to Texas as a divisional rival with the Mariners, his first Tigers game back in his original home park featured a diving catch in left-center field to rob Rangers leadoff man Delino DeShields. Martin covered 82 feet in 4.5 seconds on a ball that had a 27 percent catch probability, making it a four-star catch, according to Statcast™.

"We're a little disappointed in here. We're frustrated. We have injuries on top of it. Those are the troubling things. We've been relatively healthy, and now all these things are coming at us. We're making a lot of changes, we have some people beat up, and we're trying to work our way through it. Frustrating, yes, but I'm still proud of those guys out there. They're battling their tails off. They're really getting after the game. They're not trying to make mistakes." -- Gardenhire
The Tigers picked up a go-ahead run on a two-out challenge in the sixth inning when Rangers right fielder Mazara muffed a two-out fly ball down the line off the bat of Jose Iglesias. First-base umpire Bill Miller originally ruled that Mazara had touched the ball in foul territory, but a 90-second review showed the ball was fair when Mazara misplayed it. Jones, who took off on contact, was ruled to have scored from second base, giving the Tigers a 6-5 lead.

Mike Fiers (2-2, 5.00) will try to overcome his career struggles vs. Texas when he takes the mound for the middle game of the three-game series Tuesday at 8:05 p.m. ET. He is 0-3 with an 8.90 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance against the Rangers, who will counter with lefty Mike Minor.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.