Fulmer 1st win since 2018, Tigers sweep shorthanded Astros

Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

(AP) – After their struggles entering this series, a sweep over any team would have been big for the Detroit Tigers and manager A.J. Hinch.

But doing it against his former club did make the victories just a bit sweeter.

Michael Fulmer earned his first win since 2018 and the Tigers built a big lead before holding off the short-handed Houston Astros 6-4 Wednesday night to win all three games.

Hinch wrapped up a triumphant return to Houston with the sweep that followed the Tigers losing their previous four games and six of seven. It was his first meeting with the Astros since being suspended by Major League Baseball and subsequently fired in January 2020 for his role in the team’s sign-stealing scam.

“We needed a win, you could put any team in the other dugout, we needed some wins and we wanted to piece them together," Hinch said. “But it’s natural to have some extra motivation and want to show well and have your team play well but it didn’t matter who was across the way."

Outscored 14-4 in losing the first two games with a full roster, the Astros went into the wrapup after putting five players, including stars José Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Álvarez, on the COVID-19 injured list.

“It’s hard on the team but you have to carry on. The show must go on," manager Dusty Baker said. “And it went on today with some younger players we have here."

Jeimer Candelario had three hits and two RBIs for Tigers, who took advantage of a wild performance by Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1) to pile up six runs in four innings with only a double and a smattering of singles. The small-ball display came a night after Detroit scored all its runs in an 8-2 win via five homers.