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Fulmer aims to throw strikes in Tigers' big win

MLB.com

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer's start on Friday could've been a lot different had the Tigers not thumped the White Sox, 15-5. But pitching with a big lead early -- Detroit led by nine after three innings -- changes a pitcher's priorities and lessens the necessity to nibble.

"When you get a big lead, you don't want to walk guys," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "And when you don't want to walk guys, you generally throw your fastball a little more frequently in fastball counts, and hitters are sitting on it."

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DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer's start on Friday could've been a lot different had the Tigers not thumped the White Sox, 15-5. But pitching with a big lead early -- Detroit led by nine after three innings -- changes a pitcher's priorities and lessens the necessity to nibble.

"When you get a big lead, you don't want to walk guys," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "And when you don't want to walk guys, you generally throw your fastball a little more frequently in fastball counts, and hitters are sitting on it."

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After six quick outs on 19 pitches through two innings, Fulmer entered the third with a 5-0 lead. The White Sox notched back-to-back hits, both off fastballs, to score a run. Then in the fifth, three more hits, off fastballs, led to three more runs. In total, six of the seven hits against Fulmer in the game were off fastballs, but he only allowed one walk.

Though Fulmer threw his fastball in some predictable counts, it had good life, sitting at 96-98 mph consistently. He flashed his off-speed repertoire in the sixth, with a 1-2-3 inning that included two strikeouts, using only one fastball versus one slider and 10 changeups, according to Statcast™.

"Stuff was outstanding," Ausmus said. "They seemed to string together hits a couple times close together where they scored some runs. But his stuff was as good as we've seen all year."

Fulmer, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, allowed five earned runs in seven innings to get the win Friday. In his previous two starts, he allowed just four earned runs over 15 innings, but took two losses because Detroit was shut out in both games.

Friday's start snapped his 10-game quality start streak, which was the longest in the Majors. Under different game circumstances, Fulmer probably would've attacked the White Sox differently and kept them guessing. But throwing more pitches over the plate was a fair price for the win, Fulmer said.

"Yeah, I'll give up five and take a win, over giving up one and taking a loss any day of the week," he said.

Worth noting:
• Catcher James McCann had the stitches removed from his left hand Friday, after suffering a laceration when he was hit by a pitch. McCann and Ian Kinsler, who has been sidelined with left hamstring tightness, are both expected to return Tuesday against the Angels.

Matthew Boyd, who was sent to Triple-A Toledo after Friday's game, is expected to start for the Mud Hens on Monday, Ausmus said. Anibal Sanchez, who has been rehabbing with Toledo, suffered a hamstring injury Friday and will be re-evaluated at some point Saturday.

Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com

Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer