MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota -- Michael Fulmer made his Major League Baseball debut and shined on Friday night against the Minnesota Twins to lead the Detroit Tigers to victory. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos played long ball in the 9-3 win at Target Field.
"I just kept telling myself, 'Get the first batter of the game out.' Once that happened, I kind of settled in," Fulmer said. "I just tried to keep the emotions in check and felt I did a pretty good job of that. All these guys just told me to breathe and relax, and everything worked out very well."
The Tigers acquired Fulmer and Luis Cessa, who the team later traded away, in a trade at the 2015 trade deadline with the New York Mets that sent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Big Apple.
Believe it or not, the top prospect for Detroit struck out three of the first six batters.
"He's not just a flamethrower. He knows how to pitch, how to command his pitches. That made it a lot easier," catcher Bobby Wilson said.
J.D. Martinez, batting in the second spot of the lineup, doubled to center field in the top of the first inning to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead over the Twins. Victor Martinez added an RBI single and Castellanos hit a sacrifice fly for Detroit in the inning to take a 3-0 edge.
The Twins (7-16) got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning as Eduardo Escobar singled up the middle to score Oswaldo Arica. Detroit, in the top of the fifth, got the run back for a 4-1 lead. Cabrera unleashed on a solo home run to center field off Phil Hughes, the starting pitcher for Minnesota.
"I had a pretty good pitch down and away, but he can cover the entire strike zone," Hughes said regarding the home run he gave up to Cabrera. "He does that a lot."
Cabrera's fence clearing hit was the 412th home run of his career, tying him with Alfonso Soriano for 51st in MLB history.
Hughes (1-4, 4.45 ERA) gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts in the loss against Detroit. The Tigers jumped on him early and got three runs in the first inning. Hughes, who has a 1.25 WHIP, will start Wednesday against the Houston Astros in hopes of turning his season around earlier than later.
The Twins cut their deficit to two runs on a double by Miguel Sano, scoring Brian Dozier in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"He [Fulmer] got a little tired at the end," manager Brad Ausmus said. "But he did his job; he did exactly what we wanted him to do."
Fulmer (1-0, 3.60 ERA), who made his major league debut, allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk across 5.0 innings of baseball for the team from the Motor City. The 23-year-old with a 97 miles per hour fastball and power slider struck out four hitters. If he continues to pitch well, Fulmer could solidify a spot in the rotation. If not, the right-hander will go back to Triple-A Toledo's starting rotation or could wind up in the bullpen of the Tigers. Fulmer will battle against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
The Tigers (12-10) roared for three runs in the eighth inning and two runs in the ninth inning. Victor Martinez played long ball for the fifth time this season to right field off Casey Fien. Castellanos, also batting against Fien, clubbed a solo home run of his own and then Anthony Gose added an RBI single for a 7-2 lead in favor of the Tigers.
Castellanos singled off Alex Meyer and drove in Victor Martinez in the top of the ninth inning. After Meyer was replaced by Frenando Abad, Wilson added an RBI single. Detroit owned a 9-2 lead over Minnesota entering the bottom of the inning.
Martinez, with the four-hit game on Friday, has posted 16 four-hit games in his career with the last coming on July 6, 2015 against the Seattle Mariners. Castellanos has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Buck Farmer pitched a perfect frame to secure the 9-2 victory for the Tigers over the Twins.
The pitching performance from Fulmer and the home runs by Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Castellanos were too much for the Twins to handle on Friday night. As for the Twins, Byung-ho Park went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and is now slashing just .226/.290/.532 with five home runs and seven RBI. Sano and Escobar were the only players for Minnesota to drive in a run.
"It was not a good game for us in any phase," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said.
The Tigers will play the Twins in Game 2 of the three-game series at 2:10 PM ET on Saturday. Detroit will send Jordan Zimmermann (4-0, 0.35 ERA) to toe the slab. Meanwhile, Tyler Duffey (0-0, 2.25 ERA).