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Tigers 7, White Sox 5: Carson Fulmer falters in first test

Rookie reliever struggles with control to take first loss

Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For a brief moment, the White Sox looked poised to pull off an upset. They solved phenom rookie Michael Fulmer for five runs, three of them coming when Justin Morneau turned on an elevated cutter and deposited it into the Detroit bullpen for his first homer in a White Sox uniform and a 5-4 lead through five.

The problem: The bullpen had to protect that one-run lead while covering 5⅔ innings after the Tigers wore out Jacob Turner. The effort broke down in the seventh, as Carson Fulmer struggled to find the strike zone in his first attempt at setup work.

Fulmer entered with the seventh all his, and he ended up loading the bases on a walk, single and walk. One run scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the game, although Tim Anderson was able to turn a chopper to short into an out at third. It didn’t allow Fulmer to ease up, though. He finally got one past Omar Narvaez on a pitch behind Ian Kinsler that took the double play away, although Anderson negated it by turning Kinsler’s bouncer into an out at the plate.

Just when Fulmer was one out away from exiting with minimal damage, he walked Cameron Maybin on four pitches to reload the bases. At that point, Fulmer had thrown just 12 of his 30 pitches for strikes, so Robin Ventura called for Nate Jones to try to bail out the rookie. Miguel Cabrera played spoiler, shooting a single through the middle to give Detroit a two-run lead and this game its final score.

Turner deserved a little better than his line. After he survived two scoreless innings and plunked Kinsler to start the third, he made up for his own mistake by picking off Kinsler. However, Jose Abreu’s throw to second sailed on Tim Anderson, and it glanced off his glove and into left field. Kinsler was credited with a stolen base and took third on the error, and a three-run, 46-pitch inning was underway when Turner should’ve had one out and nobody on. Maybin followed with a double to right that Adam Eaton turned into a triple, and then scored two batters later on a wild pitch.

I’m not sure whether Turner had favorable odds for a quality start, because he started the game shakily. He left the bases loaded in the first after three straight runners reached with two outs (although Ventura called for an intentional walk of Victor Martinez in the first inning, two outs and a runner on second, which was ridiculous). He ended up departing after Kinsler singled and Maybin walked with one out in the fourth, and Kinsler came home on a Martinez sac fly with Matt Albers on the mound.

He didn’t take the loss, though. The Sox continued defying the narrative with a good showing against a pitcher they hadn’t seen before, and Michael Fulmer entered the game better than most (9-2, 2.13 ERA over 14 starts). The SOx put a quick unearned run on the board when Anderson reached on an error, took third on Melky Cabrera’s single and scored on Jose Abreu’s base hit.

After the Tigers built the 4-1 lead and looked to cruise comfortably to the finish line, the Sox turned the tables on him with a four-run fifth. The rally started with an Omar Narvaez single and an Eaton walk, but appeared to be a false start when Anderson grounded into a fielder’s choice and Cabrera struck out.

Abreu kept hope alive with his second run-scoring hit of the day, a double to right field on a 2-2 count. Likewise, Morneau hung tough behind in the count, turning on one inside slider too many for his three-run blast.

The Detroit starter only lasted five innings, giving up five runs (four earned). Unfortunately for the White Sox, the Tigers still had the better Fulmer.

Record: 46-50 | Box score | Highlights