Tigers' Fulmer hopes to zero in versus Rangers

STATS/TSX

One bad inning seems to spoil every Michael Fulmer start.

The Detroit Tigers right-hander can look overpowering most of the time, but the opposition catches up to him at some point.

In Cincinnati three starts ago, he dominated for five innings before giving up two home runs in the sixth.

Against Oakland in his next outing, he lasted eight innings but gave up three runs in the third. Facing the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, Fulmer tossed four scoreless innings but allowed three runs in the fifth.

He wound up with two losses and a no-decision in those starts. He'll try to break the habit in the finale of a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on Sunday afternoon.

"Overall, it's just kind of eliminating that one big inning," Fulmer said of his struggles. "I feel like that's what it is every start. If I can just keep the crooked numbers off the scoreboard every inning and just try to put up zeroes the best I can, the results will come eventually. I know I've been saying that for a while, but I feel like we're close and I'm still happy with my stuff right now."

Fulmer (3-7, 4.22 ERA) has posted one victory in his last seven outings. Run support has been spotty at best for him this season -- he has given up two or fewer runs in eight starts -- but he'd rather make things easier on his team.

"I feel like any given start, it just needs one complete game and we're going to turn the corner," he said. "Everything else feels good. I feel healthy, I feel strong and you can see that by the way I'm executing my pitches."

Fulmer is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers. He can take inspiration from Jordan Zimmermann's performance Friday after the veteran right-hander limited Texas to one run in eight innings and struck out 11.

"His command (Friday) was impeccable," Fulmer said. "The biggest key for myself is trying to command the ball a little better."

Detroit got another strong start Saturday from Mike Fiers, who gave up one run in six innings of the Tigers' 7-1 win.

Right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-2, 4.40) will oppose Fulmer. He has made three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.

Bibens-Dirkx gave up five runs in six innings against Houston in his last start, but it could have been worse. All the runs came in the first three innings, but he settled down and retired nine of the last 12 batters he faced.

This will be Bibens-Dirkx's first career start against the Tigers, but he tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief last season. He's 4-1 with a 3.81 ERA in 14 road appearances (five starts) since making his major league debut as a 32-year-old last season.

Texas designated hitter Shin-Shoo Choo can establish a franchise on-base record Sunday. He tied Julio Franco's 1993 mark by reaching base for the 46th consecutive game Saturday.

He had two doubles after homering Friday despite dealing with a quad injury.

"Very impressive what Choo's doing," manager Jeff Banister said. "Any time a player is battling through some nagging things and continuing to go out and perform is highly impressive. He's a tremendous player. For me, it's not just the on-base (streak), it's how he's playing, how he's swinging the bat, the power, the extra-base hits and the walks."

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