Fulmer, Tigers aim to tame streaking Giants (Jul 04, 2017)

BY AP • July 3, 2017

DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer won the American League Rookie of the Year award last season. He became an All-Star on Sunday.

That hasn't stopped the second-year Detroit Tigers right-hander from tinkering with his pitches. As if opposing batters didn't have enough to worry about, Fulmer now plans to mix in a curveball to his already formidable arsenal.

Fulmer throws a four-seam fastball, sinker, changeup and slider to keep the hitters guessing. He'll show off his latest "toy" against the San Francisco Giants in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park.

"I've been working on it for probably the past three bullpen sessions in-between starts," Fulmer said of the curve. "I wasn't quite ready to break it out in a game. I haven't been throwing it since 2012."

Fulmer claims that the curve was his best pitch in high school but when he learned to throw a slider, the similarities between the two caused him to stop throwing curveballs. Now that he's refined his slider, he's ready to start throwing curves again.

"When we were up 7-0, I finally broke it out in the eighth inning of my last start," he said. "It's still a work in progress."

Fulmer (7-6, 3.19 ERA), the Tigers' lone All-Star representative, nearly collected the second complete-game shutout of his career against Kansas City. He gave up three ninth-inning runs, two earned, and settled for the win.

The Giants, who have won six straight, will face him for the first time.

"Obviously, we don't know a ton about them and they don't know a ton about me," he said. "None of their guys have seen me and I haven't seen their batters before. One of those things where you've got to pitch to your strengths. You've got to look through a lot of video, a lot of research, a lot of scouting reports and see where their weaknesses are."

The Tigers (36-45) are 3-3 on their current homestand after dropping two of three to the American League Central-leading Cleveland Indians. Their record at the midway point is their worst since 2003.

San Francisco (33-51) remains in last place in the National League West despite sweeping three-game series from Colorado and Pittsburgh.

"I think we have confidence and expect to win now," first baseman Brandon Belt told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Before, I don't think we had that. It might have been the opposite. I'm not sure what triggered it, but this is how we feel we should have been playing the whole time."

The Giants staged rallies in all of their wins over Pittsburgh during the weekend.

"We shouldn't be happy where we're at," manager Bruce Bochy told the Chronicle. "You're talking about pride more now, but we shouldn't be satisfied with this little run. We have a lot of baseball left."

Veteran right-hander Matt Cain will oppose Fulmer. Cain (3-7, 5.46 ERA), who has never faced Detroit, has lost his last six decisions with his last victory coming on May 15.

In his start last Tuesday, Cain got a no-decision against the Rockies while allowing three runs on six hits in six innings.

He might avoid facing Tigers slugger Justin Upton, who missed the Cleveland series with right side soreness. Upton is questionable to play on Tuesday.

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