Fulmer wins debut as Tigers thump Twins

Fulmer wins debut as Tigers thump Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- No. 1 Tigers prospect Michael Fulmer tossed five solid innings to pick up the win in his Major League debut, and was backed by homers from Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos in a 9-2 victory over the Twins on Friday night at Target Field.

Fulmer, ranked as the No. 50 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts. He became the first Tigers pitcher to win his debut since lefty Kyle Ryan on Aug. 30, 2014.

"I can't really give enough credit to [catcher Bobby Wilson] behind the plate," Fulmer said. "I basically relied on him quite a bit. I didn't ever disagree with him and obviously everything worked out. We got a team 'W' and you can't argue with a three-run head start before you even take the mound.

Fulmer's solid MLB debut

"So, I was very pleased with the way it went; just really on top of the world right now."

Top prospect Fulmer crafts strong first impression

Fulmer was staked to a three-run lead in the first, as Twins right-hander Phil Hughes struggled early before settling in. Hughes also went five frames, surrendering four runs on seven hits and two walks to snap a string of four straight quality starts. He gave up a solo homer to Cabrera in the fifth.

V-Mart's big night at the plate

The Tigers put the game away with a three-run eighth, keyed by solo shots from Martinez and Castellanos off reliever Casey Fien.

Castellanos' big fly

Twins right-hander Alex Meyer, scheduled to start Tuesday, came in and gave up consecutive singles to allow another run to score before getting out of a bases-loaded jam with one out. Meyer remained in and gave up two more runs in the ninth, exiting with one out.

"It was a bad night," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We didn't hit enough to give ourselves a real chance. Just not a very good game for us in any phase."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Coming out hitting: Detroit took control early and gave its rookie pitcher some breathing room. The Tigers scored three runs in the first off Hughes. Ian Kinsler led off with a walk, and J.D. Martinez quickly followed with a line drive off the center-field wall to score Kinsler. Victor Martinez singled to drive in J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton also singled as four of the first five batters reached. Victor Martinez then scored on a sacrifice fly by Castellanos.

Martinez's RBI double

Two outs? No problem: The Twins scored both of their runs against Fulmer with two outs, as they had three consecutive singles with two outs in the fourth, including an RBI single from Eduardo Escobar for their first run. Miguel Sano added a two-out RBI double in the fifth, but was stranded after a hard-hit groundout to short from Byung Ho Park that left the bat at 107 mph, per Statcast™.

Escobar's RBI single

Not fooling Miggy: Cabrera's opposite-field home run in the fifth went 401 feet, according to Statcast™ data, and extended the lead to 4-1. The homer was the sixth of Cabrera's career against Hughes, the most Hughes has allowed to any player. Cabrera is 18-for-41 (.439) against Hughes in his career with five doubles and 14 RBIs.

"He hit a pretty good pitch, down and away," Hughes said. "But he can do that. He does that a lot."

Sano makes highlight-reel grab: Sano, playing right field for the first time since Monday, made an impressive diving catch to rob Cabrera of a hit in the seventh. It was a welcome sign for the Twins, as Sano will be seeing plenty of action in right going forward, especially with third baseman Trevor Plouffe set to return from the 15-day disabled list as soon as Tuesday.

Sano's outstanding catch

"I've been working really hard," Sano said. "Every day I'm trying to do something different and better. Whenever, I'm in the field, I'm trying to make every play." More >

QUOTABLE
"He's maturing as a hitter. He's always been strong, but he's maturing as a hitter and learning what he can and can't do, and what pitches he can and can't hit. When he does barrel it up, it can travel. He has strength to all fields." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, on Castellanos, whose third homer of the season -- tracked by Statcast™ at 433 feet -- hit the batter's eye in center field

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his single in the first, Joe Mauer has reached in all 23 games he's played, which is tied for the third-longest streak to open a season in Twins history. The only players with longer such streaks are Kent Hrbek (33 in 1982) and Jacque Jones (27 in 2005).

WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: Jordan Zimmermann will look to stay perfect as the right-hander starts Saturday at 2:10 p.m. ET. Zimmermann (4-0, 0.35 ERA) began his first season in Detroit with three scoreless starts before giving up three runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings against Oakland in his last start.

Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey is slated to make his second start of '16 Saturday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Duffey lasted four-plus innings in his season debut against the Nationals, leaving after being hit by a line drive in his right shoulder. But Duffey was cleared to make his next start.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Brian Hall is a contributor to MLB.com based in Minneapolis and covered the Tigers on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.