DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer has a losing record with a 3.60 ERA. On Saturday, he became the second Tigers starter in 10 years to lose a game without giving up an earned run over seven or more innings, surrendering an unearned run in a 3-0 loss to the Dodgers.What Fulmer
DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer has a losing record with a 3.60 ERA. On Saturday, he became the second Tigers starter in 10 years to lose a game without giving up an earned run over seven or more innings, surrendering an unearned run in a 3-0 loss to the Dodgers.
What Fulmer is not suffering from are excuses.
"I need to do a better job of making pitches with guys in scoring position," said Fulmer, whose fate fell on an Adrian Gonzalez seventh-inning RBI single.
He didn't care that the runner who scored, former Tiger Curtis Granderson, reached on a two-base error charged when third baseman Nicholas Castellanos lost a two-out popup in the sun. What bothered him was his pitching after that, and what he perceived as his struggle to get the out he needed to make up for it.
Five days after giving up five runs in as many innings at Texas, Fulmer had his best outing in five weeks. After opening his outing with a four-pitch walk to Chris Taylor, he allowed just two singles and a hit batsman over his first six innings. His fastball command, the issue he worked on between starts, was possibly his best all season by his account.
"I thought he located his fastball well on both sides of the plate," manager Brad Ausmus said. "It's got good late movement. Of course, his changeup and slider are always good when he's around the zone with them. But his fastball was very good today."
Fulmer threw 62 fastballs out of 105 pitches, according to Statcast™, and drew 14 called strikes and 14 balls in play. He used 97-mph fastballs to overpower Yasmani Grandal for a strikeout on a foul tip in the second inning, catch John Forsythe looking in the sixth, fan Corey Seager three batters later, then catch Yasiel Puig on a called third strike for the second out of the seventh.
The sophomore right-hander worked between starts to take an unnecessary movement out of his delivery.
"I was getting jumpy in my start against the Rangers and kind of exploding home before my front foot hit," Fulmer said. "So I think it gave me time for my front foot to hit, get it down and go from there, and I think my fastball command down was the best it's been all year."
He was an out away from taking a scoreless duel into the seventh-inning stretch when Granderson hit a popup behind third. Castellanos, seemingly struggling with the sun, danced around to find it but couldn't get under it in time, losing the ball as Granderson ran into second.
Asked how that changed the inning, Fulmer shrugged.
"Shouldn't change anything," he said. "I just need to make pitches."
He nearly did, putting Grandal in an 0-2 hole before losing him to a walk. Fulmer seemed to make a couple pitches close, but couldn't get the call.
"I thought I made some good pitches and he just drew a walk there," Fulmer said.
On came Gonzalez, who took a first-pitch strike before shrugging off a couple sliders to get ahead in the count. That's where Fulmer slipped, literally.
"I just kind of slipped off the mound and left it over the heart of the plate," he said. "I was trying to start it off on the outside corner and let it fade off. If we get to 3-1, we just try to pitch around him there with [Logan] Forsythe on deck, a righty. But that's on me for not making a better pitch."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.