Preview: Twins at Tigers
DETROIT — Michael Fulmer got a rare treat for a second-year pitcher during his season debut. His second start promises to be a little more mundane, but he hopes for similar results.
The American League’s reigning Rookie of the Year started the Detroit Tigers’ home opener and tossed six shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox. He’ll face the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park. The Tigers won the opener of the three-game series 2-1 on Tuesday.
Fulmer, who was 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA last season, showed poise with a capacity crowd on hand Friday.
“There’s a fine line between being too amped up and just kind of geting your blood going a little bit,” he said Tuesday. “I try to keep my emotions in check and go out there and do my job, which is to put up zeroes.”
Fulmer was unfortunate to get a no-decision as the Detroit bullpen blew a four-run lead before the club rallied for a 6-5 victory. He only gave up four hits but still felt he had to improvise.
“I want to do a little better job of getting my off-speed pitches over the plate and not rely so much on the fastball,” he said. “When we get out there, we’ll have to adjust accordingly.
“In the last start, I couldn’t get my changeup or my slider over the plate, so we had to go with mainly fastballs. Got the job done that time, but the next time might be a little different.”
Fulmer faced the Twins once last season and emerged with a victory in a five-inning outing.
“They’re a hot team right now,” he said. “They have power all through the lineup. I’m going to do my research, look at the video from what they’ve done this year so far, as well as last year.
“I’ll try to prepare myself the best that I can and adjust as the game goes on tomorrow.”
He’ll be opposed by Kyle Gibson, who also got a no-decision in his first outing. Gibson allowed three runs in five-plus innings against Kansas City.
Gibson tossed four scoreless innings before allowing two solo homers and a double that led to another run against the Royals.
“It was one of those in-between ones where I definitely wanted it to end up a different way,” Gibson said. “The Royals did a good job in the fifth and sixth to make me work a little harder. But I took away a lot of good things.
“The first four innings were how I want to be throwing every start – executing fastballs, getting ahead of guys and using my off-speed off my fastball.”
Gibson had a rough 2016 campaign, going 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA. He also missed nearly two months with a shoulder strain and inflamed rotator cuff.
He’s focused on getting deeper into games this season.
“I had way too many outings last year where I got into the fifth inning and then got into the sixth and didn’t finish the sixth inning,” he said. “A lot of it was concentration and execution. I needed to do a better job of that.”
Gibson is familiar with Detroit’s lineup. He has had 10 career starts against the Tigers, going 4-5 with a 4.84 ERA.
“Their power hitters do a really good job of sticking to their approach. They don’t allow you to get them out the same way two times in a row,” he said. “They make you work really hard.
“A lot of their good hittters, seems like they try to find which pitches you can’t throw for a strike that day, eliminate them and then sit on the pitches you can throw for strikes.”