Michael Fulmer was solid yet again, giving the Tigers a quality start—eight for eight in that regard so far—and helped his team shake off a tough loss on Tuesday. Say what you want about the quality start as a valuable pitcher metric, but it at least suggests Fulmer can go deep into games and give his team a chance, which is exactly what he did. A day after Matthew Boyd got knocked around to the tune of seven runs, the Tigers needed a starter to go deep and protect a tired ‘pen. Fulmer gave them that, and much more.
Tyler Collins was a big story on Tuesday, as his hitless streak hit 30 at bats. It was a different story last night though, as the beleaguered Tigers outfielder busted out of his slump with two homeruns, including a three-run shot that gave the Tigers a lead Fulmer and the bullpen didn’t relinquish. These were no cheapies either; Collins sent his first homer to right center and his second one into the visitors’ bullpen. He also added a double off a lefty reliever too, to cap a 3-for-4 night. Collins had 10 total bases in this game; he had only 30 total bases coming into the game.
The Tigers’ bullpen also came through a day after some of their members stumbled. After Fulmer finished his seven frames, the ever-reliable Alex Wilson came on and made quick work of the Orioles, dispatching big bats in Mark Trumbo, Jonathan School, and Welington Castillo with ease.
In the ninth, Justin Wilson—by his own admission, without his best stuff—came on for the save. Wilson struggled a little with his command, giving up a leadoff single to Trey Mancini and walking the pinch hitter Joey Rickard, but he also struck out J.J. Hardy, got Adam Jones to fly out, and ended the game with a questionable check swing strike call on Manny Machado. (After the game, Wilson said he wasn’t sure if Machado went on the called third strike, but felt he’d gone earlier in the at bat on a check swing that went against the Tigers. So it evens up!) Wilson also had some thoughts about his blown save the night before, which essentially boiled down to tipping his cap to Trumbo for the homerun. Wilson missed his location on the pitch Trumbo hit out, but most hitters, he felt, wouldn’t have even swung at that pitch. Trumbo is just so strong, he was able to hit it out of the park on a line.
With Minnesota showing some signs that their fairy dust might be rubbing off, and the prohibitive AL Central favorites struggling, the Tigers have a prime opportunity to grab hold of the division. They just need to take advantage. But can they? Tune in later tonight for the exciting conclusion.