KISSIMMEE, Florida -- Colby Rasmus got the party started for the Houston Astros and led the team to a 10-4 win over the Detroit Tigers at Osceola County Stadium on Friday.
With Michael Fulmer pitching, Rasmus unleashed on a home run to right field, scoring Jose Altuve and George Springer. The line drive shot in the bottom of the first inning put the Astros ahead of the Tigers, 3-0.
"Obviously my first two appearances were out of the 'pen," Fulmer said. "First start since last August, [I was] trying new things preparation-wise before the game. Felt good, felt fine, felt like all my stuff was there, just couldn't put the ball in the zone today."
Fulmer toed the slab and gave up three runs on one hit and four walks with just one strikeout across 1.0 inning of work. The 6-foot-3, 200 pound right-handed pitcher, who made his first start of the spring, is the Tigers No. 1 prospect by Baseball America. Fulmer has a fastball that can hit 97 miles per hour and will use a power slider with two strikes on a hitter. Along with those two pitches, the first round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft features a curveball and a changeup. Fulmer, 22, will probably start the season with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, but has the potential to reach a No. 3 starter or a back of the bullpen force by the prime of his career.
"He's preparing to be a starter," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus explained, "but like I said early on, it would be a little bit of a long shot for him to make the big league team as a starter. I think it's more realistic as a reliever."
The Astros added to the lead with sacrifice fly from Springer to score A.J. Reed in the bottom of the second.
Detroit got two runs back off Scott Feldman in the top of the third. Jose Iglesias hit his third double of the spring to left field, which scored Bryan Holaday. Iglesias crossed the plate on a double to center fielder Carlos Gomez by Anthony Gose, just moments later.
While Feldman gave up those two runs, he went 3.0 innings and struck out one batter. The starter is currently slotted into the fifth rotational spot in Houston, but Mike Fiers is close behind.
Before the Tigers could get any closer, Tyler White drove in Gomez on a single to right, which increased the edge of Houston to 5-2. Steven Moya continued his hot spring with a moon shot to left center field off Ken Giles in the top of the fourth inning to cut the deficit to three runs for Detroit.
“Not too much thinking,” Moya said of hitting a fastball for a home run off Giles, who had 15 saves last season for the Philadelphia Phillies. “I just react to it. He has the hard stuff, so you just have to be ready for the hard stuff. If he throws something else, it’s still hard too, really hard slider too.”
Moya's 6-foot-7 frame gives him a crazy big strike zone and he has struggled by chasing pitches that are impossible to hit. However, when the outfielder gets ahold of a pitch it carries out of the park. The 24-year-old has the most potential of any Detroit prospect, but will end up as a bust if he can not learn to be more of a selective hitter at the dish.
The Astros tallied two more runs to take a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth. The Tigers got one back on an RBI single off the bat of Ian Kinsler, but then it was all Houston.
Eury Perez singled to right field, which scored White and Tony Kemp. Carlos Correa doubled on a liner to right to score Perez and give the Astros a 10-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. All three runs in that inning came off of Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon.
In the event, Feldman got the win for the Astros, while Fulmer took the loss for the Tigers.
The Tigers will head back to Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida to battle the Pittsburgh Pirates. Meanwhile, the Astros will send Fiers to the hill against Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.