The Detroit Tigers’ latest edition of good starting pitching and timely hitting starred Michael Fulmer and Andrew Romine.
For the seventh time in eight games, their starting pitcher recorded a quality start this afternoon at Comerica Park. And once again, an unlikely hitter came through with a big home run.
On the mound, it was Fulmer, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year who, on this day, settled in like a veteran. At the plate, it was Romine, whose hard work in revamping his swing this off-season has resulted in a hot start.
Romine’s fourth-inning grand slam -- the first of his career -- provided all the offense that the Tigers would need in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins. For good measure, he flipped his bat, likely for the first time in his career.
The grand slam was a breakthrough against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson, who tamed the Tigers’ offense through the first three innings. In the fourth, they loaded the bases with one out before Tyler Collins put a run on the board with a RBI single to left-centerfield.
Then came Romine, who deposited Gibson’s one-ball-two-strike slider into the rightfield seats. It was the latest look at Romine’s increased power, which was on display throughout spring training. In four games this season -- three starts -- Romine is 6-for-11 with four extra-base hits.
The grand slam made a winner out of Fulmer, who battled erratic command and a high pitch count early in the game. Noted Tigers nemesis Brian Dozier led off the game with a solo home run, his 16th against Detroit. By the time Fulmer finished the third inning after allowing two more runs, his pitch count was at 74.
But he righted that ship shortly thereafter, retiring the next nine Minnesota batters in order. Fulmer’s final line, after he finished the top of the sixth inning on a swinging strikeout for his 110th pitch of the game was six innings, four hits, one walk and seven strikeouts.
It was the second-highest pitch count of his career.
In the win, the Tigers homered for the eighth consecutive game to open the season, setting a franchise record. It’s the longest streak in the American League since the Indians opened the 2012 season by homering in nine straight.
With both Justin Wilson and Francisco Rodriguez unavailable, Alex Wilson earned his third career save, pitching a pair of scoreless innings to close out the win.
The Tigers are in sole possession of first place in the American League Central. They are 6-2.