Fulmer making Tigers rookie history

Fulmer making Tigers rookie history

DETROIT -- The numbers are getting scary for Michael Fulmer. They generally revolve around zeros.

No Tigers pitcher, or at least none since 1913, had thrown three consecutive outings of at least six scoreless innings and allowed three or fewer hits. Fulmer did it, and he would've had three straight outings of seven-plus innings if not for the lopsided nature of Monday's 11-0 win over the Blue Jays. The latter would've put him with Clayton Kershaw last year and Pedro Martinez in 2002 as the only pitchers to do that since 2000.

Just two Tigers rookies have pitched longer scoreless streaks than the 22 1/3 innings Fulmer has going. John Hiller holds the record with 28 2/3 in August 1967, followed by Victor Santos' 25 in early 2001.

The only run Fulmer has allowed in his last four starts was Evan Longoria's homer May 21. The rookie has allowed 11 hits over 28 1/3 innings in his last four starts, walking seven and striking out 27.

"I try not to look at it," Fulmer said. "I try to just go out there and keep my team in the ballgame and ultimately get a win."

He's doing that. At 6-1, Fulmer is second on the Tigers' staff in wins, trailing only Jordan Zimmermann, despite not getting called up until the end of April.

A year ago at this point, the 23-year-old right-hander was still another name in the Mets' farm system. Not only is Fulmer now a frontline starter, he's one of the biggest reasons for hope that the Tigers will be contenders this summer.

"He really has been dominant," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's been our best pitcher, probably, over the last 3 1/2 weeks, whatever the stretch is. I don't know that I would've predicted it from a young pitcher like that coming up, but he's done an excellent job.

"To me, the big thing has been his poise and his ability to throw the changeup. The pitch that he was supposedly working on this year has come around much quicker than expected."

The poise is in his nature. The changeup was in his arm, but it took his second-year catcher to get him to throw it.

"The big thing I told him," James McCann said, "is, 'Look, you feel comfortable with your slider, you feel comfortable with your fastball. We're going to find situations early in the game to use your changeup where you can't necessarily get hurt. You can find a feel for it and throw it in different situations where you're not going to give up a big hit, just to get that feel.' And I think it took him one time to throw it, and he got the feel."

That one time was the game against the Rays that started this streak. As Fulmer struggled to locate his fastball Monday, the changeup was big.

He threw fewer than a dozen, but got four swings and misses. His last two strikeouts in the sixth were on changeups, sending Edwin Encarnacion down on an awkward-looking swing before Michael Saunders froze on Fulmer's final pitch.

The mighty Blue Jays lineup managed two hits in six innings against Fulmer, both from No. 9 hitter Darwin Barney.

"Sometimes you have to tip your cap," Barney said.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.