Michael Fulmer didn't just gain a familiar face when teammate Justin Upton was added to the American League All-Star team. He also gained a ride to the festivities.
Fulmer and his wife were originally going to catch a late-night flight from Cleveland to Miami with the Indians, who had their own contingent of players and coaches headed to the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. Upton, however, thought they'd have a better flight if they weren't with the team that was just their opponent for three grueling games, capped by a Sunday night contest at Progressive Field.
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"Upton was generous enough to get a plane for us," Fulmer said. "He said he'd rather not fly with the Indians after we just played them. My original plan was for me to fly with them, then Upton made the team as well."
Even so, it was a tough night of travel for them. Fulmer started Sunday night opposite fellow All-Star Corey Kluber in a game that ended just before midnight ET. By the time Fulmer cleaned up from a victorious six-plus innings and they left the ballpark for their plane down the street at Lakefront Airport, they were into the wee hours of Monday morning.
"I'm a little exhausted," Fulmer said, "but I wouldn't rather be in any other place."
Had Fulmer been on track to pitch in tonight's Midsummer Classic, that might have made for a rough turnaround. Once he was taken off the active roster, however, he became a spectator of sorts, doing interviews and appearances and taking in events with his family -- but not worrying about pitching.
"I'll be exhausted," Fulmer said. "But the next couple days are going to be a dream come true. So I'm just trying to take it all in and hang out with J-Up and try to enjoy myself."
It was a dream well earned. Fulmer's selection came last weekend, but he added 14 quality innings over two victories this week, including a win to help the Tigers thwart a series sweep in Cleveland. He improved to 9-6 with a 3.19 ERA, the latter ranking sixth lowest among AL starters. His 1.12 WHIP put him in the AL's top five, while his 115 2/3 innings and 14 ground-ball double plays induced placed him sixth.
Fulmer watched the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night and worried about guys getting the ball out of the park rather than keeping the ball in. He has done a fine job of the latter, allowing just seven homers this season.
"I really didn't change much," Fulmer said of his evolution from Rookie to All-Star. "I think everything was more mental with me than physical. I try to replicate what I did last year. Obviously, teams are making adjustments, and I've got to make adjustments as well -- try to throw my sinker more and really mix in a few slower breaking balls, mix pitches and stuff."
Upton will be serving as a reserve in his fourth All-Star Game. He closed out the first half leading the Tigers with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs to go with a .265 average and an .841 OPS.
"He's showing me the ropes a little already," Fulmer said. "I'm thankful, and I'm super glad he's made it because he's earned it. I think he's been our most consistent hitter, and obviously he's made a few game-saving catches for me, as well."
"I've been on a few here and there," Upton said of making this year's AL All-Star roster. "Being able to do it with a teammate and to come down to the All-Star Game is pretty cool.
"Regardless of what team you're on, it's great to make the All-Star team. Making one in Detroit is special. I started in Arizona and made an All-Star team there. San Diego was kind of a pit stop, but this is going to be my home for a while, so to make an All-Star [Game] in Detroit is pretty cool."