To steal a line from former Detroit Tigers catcher Jim Price: All of the Detroit Tigers “departments” were in sync tonight in the first game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
But, the biggest highlight of the night came from the mound as Anibal Sanchez made his debut as a relief pitcher out of the bullpen. He came in to pitch in the top of the 8th inning, striking out Kevin Pillar and quickly earning the last two outs with help from Jose Iglesias and Justin Upton. None of the balls put into play were hit hard. Sanchez looked good on the mound, quickly getting into his groove strategically placing balls like we all know he can.
Another exciting highlight of the game included the fact that Justin Upton only struck out one time! And, by the way, he did happen to hit a two-run home run that scored Nick Castellanos. He landed on base several times eventually scoring three runs and earning three RBIs for his efforts. Prior to tonight’s game, Upton did have a .600 batting average against Happ.
Upton’s bat was not the only slow one to get started. James McCann opened up the floodgates with a home run that scored three runs in the second inning. Ian Kinsler also scored two runs during the game going five for two and earning one RBI.
Cameron Maybin continued his hitting streak remaining above .400 with two hits and a walk. J.D. Martinez earned two RBIs in his two hits in five plate appearances. Ironically, the only starter to go without a hit tonight was Victor Martinez. After his hot streak in the last week, he was quieted by Happ. But, in their previous face-offs, Martinez came into the game only hitting .286 against him – this was one of the lowest batting averages against Happ.
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The game brought Michael Fulmer yet another win. He pitched in six innings, allowing two hits and three walks. He struck out five batters. This continues his scoreless innings streak to 22 1/3 innings. He is now 6-1 on the season. He just keeps getting better in each game. To quote Craig Monroe: “That boy good.”
According to an article by Anthony Fenech from the Detroit Free Press, Michael Fulmer is “the first Tiger in history to throw three consecutive scoreless outings of six innings or more with three or fewer hits.” Wow. Just. Wow.
Blaine Hardy almost gave up the shutout when he gave up a triple to Michael Saunders and a walk to Justin Smoak with two outs in the ninth. Despite the little burp in the top of the ninth, Hardy did his job and got the last out to end the 11-0 game.