DETROIT — Buck Farmer made his big league debut nearly three years ago but has never pitched well enough to hold down a consistent spot in Detroit’s rotation.
The Tigers hope he’s finally ready to make a significant contribution.
Farmer outlasted Alex Meyer in an unexpected pitchers’ duel, and Justin Upton hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-0 on Wednesday night. Farmer worked into the seventh and has not allowed a run in either of his two starts this year.
“He probably was rushed, out of necessity, to the big leagues,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Now he’s had parts of a few years at (Triple-A) Toledo and Detroit. There was a lot of question, there was a split camp in the organization: Is he a starter or is he a reliever? We’ve kind of held fast to pitching him in a starting role, and he’s pitching well for us now.”
Farmer (2-0) allowed three hits in 6 2/3 innings, and Detroit pushed across an unearned run in the third. Upton gave the Tigers some insurance with a drive to left off reliever Yusmeiro Petit.
Detroit has won five of six.
Farmer pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings May 27 in his first major league start of the season, striking out 11 against the Chicago White Sox. He was recalled from Toledo before Wednesday’s game, and with Matthew Boyd down in the minors, Farmer will have a chance to make an impact for the Tigers.
The right-hander has spent time in the majors in every season since 2014, but the game against the White Sox was his first victory.
“Over the past couple years a lot of people have said I may have been rushed,” Farmer said. “But you know what? It happened, and here I am, so that’s in the past.”
Meyer (2-3) permitted three hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out a career-high nine, but his wildness proved costly in the third. A hit batter, a walk and an error loaded the bases with nobody out, and the game’s first run came home when Victor Martinez bounced into a double play.
“I can’t walk that many guys, and it is something I need to fix,” Meyer said. “I thought I did a really good job of limiting hits, but I want to do both.”
Miguel Cabrera appeared to be clipped in the head by the helmet of Nicholas Castellanos after Castellanos was removed for a pinch-runner in the eighth. Video showed Castellanos apparently trying to slam his helmet into a cubby hole in the dugout, only to have it bounce back toward Cabrera.
“Miggy seems to be fine,” Ausmus said. “Nick’s a competitive guy. He wants to run the bases. It was my call to put (Andrew) Romine in there at the time, so he was upset that he got pinch-run for, because of his competitive nature, and quite frankly, he’s actually a decent baserunner. The fact of the matter is that Romine was going to play third, and Romine might be our best baserunner, so if I’m going to make the move, I might as well make the move right there.”
The 27-year-old Meyer allowed only one hit through five innings. But the Angels, playing without injured star Mike Trout, couldn’t give him any run support.
Meyer hit Ian Kinsler around the ear flap with a pitch in the third, then walked Alex Avila. An error by third baseman Yunel Escobar on Cabrera’s grounder loaded the bases, and when Martinez grounded into a double play, the Tigers scored what for a while was the game’s only run.
“You never want to see a guy walk that many hitters, but he pitched six good innings,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s taken huge strides. This is a kid who has the potential to be an outstanding major league pitcher, and we’re starting to see that.”
Angels: Relief pitcher Cam Bedrosian (groin) felt some stiffness recently. Scioscia said Bedrosian played catch from 90 feet Wednesday. “It’s just going to push things back a couple days until we can get him off the mound again and just make sure that everything is OK,” Scioscia said. Bedrosian hasn’t pitched for the Angels since April 21.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander is expected to throw a bullpen Thursday. He left his previous start Sunday with groin tightness, but an MRI came back clean. … Ausmus said he expected C James McCann (left hand) to be activated Friday.
Angels: RHP JC Ramirez (5-4) takes the mound for Thursday’s series finale against Detroit.
Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer (6-3) tries for his 11th quality start of the season.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball