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Fulmer shows promise but Tigers’ bats go silent again

Associated Press • Jul 9, 2018 at 12:17 AM

(TNS) — Eleven days ago, after the Tigers lost to the Oakland Athletics, Michael Fulmer repeatedly said he was "close" to being where he wanted to be.

Sunday, Fulmer was even closer. But once again, Detroit's bats disappeared when he needed them most.

"You can only control the things you can control," Fulmer said after the Tigers' 3-0 loss to the Texas Rangers. "I can't control that. I've had my fair share of having to grab the bats in the National League and I didn't fair as well either. So hitting stuff, especially when their guy is pretty good. ... Their starter was just better than me today."

Sunday was the 11th time this season they've been shutout.

Fulmer is 3-8 with a 4.11 ERA, but that doesn't tell the story of his season.

In 12 of his 18 starts, he has allowed three or fewer earned runs. In six of his eight losses, the Tigers have failed to score than three runs. And in two of those six losses, the Tigers went scoreless.

Fulmer doesn't look at it that way. He wants to be perfect.

"If their starter doesn't give up a run, I look at it as I can't give up a run," Fulmer said. "It's tough because I'm feeling healthy, feeling a lot better, my pitches are doing what I want them to do, my sinker is down in the zone. ... It's just one of those things where they had a couple bloop singles, ground ball singles and the only hard hit ball was the home run."

Sunday, Fulmer pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He started the day slow, giving up a solo home run to the second batter of the day. He allowing two more runs in the second, throwing 47 pitches in the first two innings.

He threw 52 pitches in his final five innings. He recovered quickly from his shaky start and gave the Tigers a chance to win — again.

"He hung in there for us and got us deep into the game where we didn't have to go to our bullpen," said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire. "And he gave us a chance, but we didn't do much offensively at all. We just had one of those down days."

The Tigers were without Nicholas Castellanos due to wrist soreness, which hurt the middle of a lineup that helped the Tigers score seven runs in the first inning Saturday. Castellanos leads the Tigers active roster in every major hitting category: Batting average (.301), on-base (.352), slugging (.518), OPS (.871), doubles (26), home runs (15), RBIs (55), runs (49) and hits (107).

Gardenhire said after the game Castellanos should be fine.

"We needed to give him a day here, and we'll see how he is tomorrow," Gardenhire said. "It's not a big deal, he says."

The Tigers went 4-for-28 at the plate Sunday, all singles. The closest they came to scoring was the bottom of the sixth, with two on and none out. But back-to-back strikeouts from JaCoby Jones and Jeimer Candelario ended the inning.

Fulmer's teammates feel they let him down, and his performance was the only reason they were in the game.

"He did a great job keeping us in that game," said Jim Aducci, who was the DH in place of Castellanos. "Even the bullpen did a great job, and that's all you can ask for. ... I think you just have to stay competitive. You're feeding off what he's doing on the mound and keeping us in that game, and you're just hoping to get something going."

Fulmer has shown progress over the past couple weeks, despite losing four of his past six starts. He continues to say he's close to finding the form that made him the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year, and even if the win column doesn't show it, he knows he's on the right track.

"The stuff off their bats its kind of what I want right now," Fulmer said. "It's hard to get frustrated and try to change a lot of things, you just have to stay this course."

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