ARLINGTON -- Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer added another accomplishment to what has already been an impressive rookie season. He tossed the first complete-game shutout of his career to take the rubber match of a three-game series against the Rangers, 7-0, Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
The Tigers, who have won three of their four series to begin August, remain 1 1/2 games behind the Red Sox for the second American League Wild Spot. The Rangers entered the contest with a 6 1/2-game lead over the Mariners for first place in the AL West
"They're a very good team, in their ballpark, [with us] having come off a three-game sweep in Seattle. It's a nice turnaround to what could've been a very tough road trip," said Brad Ausmus, whose team salvaged a 2-4 road swing after losing the first four games.
Fulmer, who reached 120 innings this season in the start, now owns the lowest ERA in the AL at 2.25. He allowed just four hits with nine strikeouts over his nine scoreless innings to gain his 10th victory of the season -- his eighth on the road.
"I just looked to make quality pitches early in the count and tried to get some ground balls and some weak popups," Fulmer said. "The defense played fantastic."
The Rangers' offense remained scoreless since the fifth inning of Friday's game, making it 21 innings since they've scored a run. Starter A.J. Griffin had his longest outing since coming of the 15-day disabled list on June 25, going 6 2/3 innings and striking out eight. But he allowed six runs and 11 hits on the day, with five of the six runs coming via Tigers home runs.
"It was good to get through more than five innings, but it could have been a better result. I'll build on that," Griffin said. " … Their guy did a good job of keeping us off-balanced and filling up the zone. I thought the score wasn't indicative of what happened out there, but it is what it is."
Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera each hit homers in a 13-hit attack for the Tigers, a day after they collected 14 hits. Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez had mirroring stat lines, each going 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and two RBIs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
V-Mart with a loft shot: While Detroit's right-handed hitters struggled against Griffin early, true to his statistical splits, switch-hitting Victor Martinez seemingly had a good read on the right-hander from the outset, doubling into the left-field corner his first time up. Martinez took advantage of Globe Life Park's dimensions for his crushing blow, a two-run homer down the right-field line to open the scoring in the fourth. Statcast™ estimated the distance at 325 feet, lofted at a 44-degree angle.
"Honestly, I was just pulling for that ball to get foul, because I thought it was going to get caught," Martinez said. "Then I saw the ball leave, and then I was just like, 'Thank you, Texas.'"
Griffin struggles in seventh Griffin pitched into the seventh inning for the first time since April 26, but he struggled to keep the ball in the park. Kinsler led off the inning with a home run to give the Tigers a four-run lead. He then got Tyler Collins to fly out and Cabrera to strike out, but Victor Martinez kept the inning alive with a single and J.D. Martinez followed with a home run. Left-hander Alex Claudio came in to replace him after that.
"I don't really notice any difference," said Griffin of pitching later into the game. "We were able to sneak those fastballs past them early in the game, but I guess they were a little more geared up and they recognized it."
Fulmer thwarts threats: The Rangers put runners on against Fulmer in two of the first four innings, but they ended both opportunities with strikeouts. His full-count fastball past Jonathan Lucroy set up a strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play to end the second. Two innings later, he delivered a nasty slider that sent Rougned Odor down swinging to strand runners at first and second.
"His slider was the sharpest I've seen in a couple outings," catcher James McCann said. "He had extremely good command. He was in command from the get-go." More >
Rangers' offense goes cold, again: The Rangers were shut out for the second straight game, and they managed just four singles against Fulmer. For the second straight game, they tallied just one at-bat with runners in scoring position. Their last extra-base hit came on a double from Mitch Moreland in Saturday's loss. Adrián Beltré had two of the four singles on Sunday, and he has four of the Rangers' seven hits over the last two games.
"[Fulmer] made some good pitches today. [He] was working the corners and throwing a good slider with the changeup, too. It was one of those games where you hit the ball straight to the fielders, but that's all," said Odor, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. "Tomorrow we'll do the same thing we do every time. It's a new day, we're going to come back and do our job. Today is done." More >
"He's making it increasingly difficult to keep his innings down." -- Ausmus, on Fulmer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rangers were shut out in back-to-back games within a three-game series for the first time ever at Globe Life Park.
Fulmer's 1-2-3 sixth inning on Sunday was his 117th inning pitched of the season in the Tigers' 117th game, thus qualifying him for the league leaderboards for starters. He immediately took over the AL lead in ERA over Kansas City's Danny Duffy, who is scheduled to face the Tigers on Tuesday.
Tigers: Detroit returns home for a week-long homestand, starting with a three-game series against the Royals. Daniel Norris (1-0, 4.00) will get the start in Monday's 7:10 p.m. ET series opener at Comerica Park.
Rangers: Left-hander Martin Pérez gets the start for the Rangers in the opener of a three-game series against the A's at 7:05 p.m. CT on Monday at Globe Life Park. Perez is 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA in three starts against the A's this year, and they are hitting .325 against him in those starts.
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