ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Michael Fulmer wants two pitches back.
Both were sliders. Both hung up in the strike zone and over the plate. Both scored the only runs the Tigers right-hander would allow.
Scattered amongst an otherwise solid 88 pitches tonight at Tropicana Field was a two-run home run by Rays shortstop Tim Beckham and a double by catcher Derek Norris, both hits coming off breaking pitches that didn’t break enough for Fulmer to win his second straight outing.
Offensively, the Tigers didn’t do nearly enough. Their bullpen was beat up again. They lost to the Rays, 5-1.
The game started in earnest on Miguel Cabrera’s third home run of the season, a 34th birthday blast to dead centerfield that traveled an estimated 451 feet. It was the second birthday home run Cabrera has hit in his career and put the Tigers within a game of major league history: They have homered in 13 consecutive games to start the season, trailing the 2002 Indians by one game for the longest streak to start a season.
On the home run, Cabrera tied Jeff Bagwell and Vladimir Guerrero for 38th place all-time. He has 449 career homers.
Fulmer cruised out of the gate with his normal array of impressive offerings, but lost the Tigers’ only lead in the bottom of the third, when Beckham hit a hanger into the leftfield seats.
Fulmer didn’t have his best stuff but pitched economically and stuck around for six innings. He allowed three earned runs on six hits, walked two and struck out five. It was the Tigers’ 10th quality start in 13 games this season.
In the sixth, he allowed an insurance run on a Norris double to leftfield, also on a hanger. Of note: In the third inning, Norris hit a screamer off Fulmer’s lower left leg. He was checked out by team head trainer Kevin Rand before retiring Shane Peterson to end the inning.
In the seventh, the Tigers threatened but came away with nothing. Victor Martinez walked, Justin Upton singled on a sensational at-bat and was then erased on a force out. On the play, Upton's right arm made contact with Beckham's right arm while sliding. Andrew Romine replaced Upton in leftfield the next inning.
Any hopes the Tigers had of a late-innings comeback were extinguished in the bottom of the seventh, when the Rays scored two add-on runs against left-hander reliever Kyle Ryan.
Credit for keeping the Tigers off the board for the most part went to Rays right-hander Matt Andriese, who picked up the win by pitching six-plus innings of one-run baseball.
With the loss, the Tigers fall to 8-5 on the season.
Detroit Free Press