CLEVELAND -- Tigers starter Michael Fulmer knew something was wrong after throwing a handful of pitches on Saturday.Fulmer gave up home runs to the first two batters he faced -- lasting only five pitches -- as it seemed like whatever could go wrong did in a 15-0 loss to the
CLEVELAND -- Tigers starter Michael Fulmer knew something was wrong after throwing a handful of pitches on Saturday.
Fulmer gave up home runs to the first two batters he faced -- lasting only five pitches -- as it seemed like whatever could go wrong did in a 15-0 loss to the American League Central champion Indians at Progressive Field.
"I told the guys, it's one loss, it's not two losses or three losses," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was just one of those games. And you just have to push past that. We have a chance to win the series tomorrow."
After giving up homers to Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley, Fulmer was checked out by head athletic trainer Doug Teter and Gardenhire before leaving the game with right knee inflammation.
Tigers catcher James McCann said he noticed Fulmer tweaked his leg after coming off the mound to try and field an attempted bunt from Lindor that landed foul on his first pitch. From there, there was a noticeable dip in the right-hander's velocity.
"None of the pitches he threw in the game had the life that he normally throws," McCann said. "I could tell he wasn't really using his legs. Regardless of results, it just was not the same coming out. Whatever was bothering him, I knew he couldn't keep going."
It's unclear if the injury will end Fulmer's season. He was likely only scheduled to pitch two of the club's remaining 14 games. Gardenhire said the team will know more once Fulmer has been evaluated by doctors.
"We'll probably get him checked out, either he'll go home or here," Gardenhire said. "But he definitely has some inflammation in his knee and we're not going to screw with his arm."
With the win, the Indians clinched their third straight division championship, while the Tigers have lost four of the last five heading into Sunday's rubber game and season series finale against the Tribe.
"Congratulations to those guys over there," Gardenhire said. "They had to do what they had to do to get into the playoffs, and we have to come back out tomorrow and go play. We can't do anything about today's ballgame, it was just ugly. It was all them and none of us."
Lindor and Brantley sparked what proved to be a decisive six-run first inning. Fulmer gave way to Matt Hall, who made his Major League debut, though he was tagged for eight hits and nine runs -- six earned in just one inning of work. The Tribe tacked on five runs in the second, two in the third and two more in the fourth. Jose Ramirez finished 3-for-4 with three runs, a walk, two RBIs and a home run shy of the cycle.
"If we make plays, it's not a rough spot at all [for Hall]," Gardenhire said. "If we just catch the balls and get the outs we're supposed to, but we didn't. … It wasn't like he was throwing bad pitches or anything, it just kept snowballing."
Saturday marked the Tigers' 17th shutout loss this season, the most in the Majors. The two hits matched a season low.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
As sharp as the Tribe's offense was, starter Mike Clevinger (12-8) was arguably better, allowing just one hit and striking out five across six innings. Christin Stewart singled off Clevinger in the fourth to spark a bases-loaded threat. However, Clevinger escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts to retire Jim Adduci and McCann.
The only other hit came off Adam Cimber as Victor Reyes hit a leadoff single down the left-field line in the eighth. Reyes entered the game for JaCoby Jones, who crashed into the center-field wall tracking down a Ramirez triple in the fourth. Per the club, Jones left with right shoulder tightness in the fifth and is considered day to day. Gardenhire said Jones was removed for precautionary measures.
HE SAID IT
"Just like I told them, it's just one loss. Grab a beer, wrap it around your lips, and we'll come back tomorrow [for the rubber game] and see if we can play our best. That's what I'm gonna do, forget about this one and go home. And I hope they do, too." -- Gardenhire
Left-hander Francisco Liriano (4-10, 4.58 ERA) will start the season finale against the Indians at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday at Progressive Field. Liriano is 5-8 with a 4.38 ERA in 24 appearances against the Tribe in his career. Rookie righty Shane Bieber (10-3, 4.32 ERA) is slated to start for Cleveland.
Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.