DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer has made pitching in the major leagues look easy. The Detroit Tigers rookie phenom can tie a franchise record on Sunday if his string of dominance continues.
Fulmer has allowed one or no earned runs in each of his last nine starts. That's the second longest such streak by a Tigers starter since at least 1913.
He can tie Doug Fister, who posted 10 consecutive one-or-no earned run outings spanning the 2011 and 2012 seasons, in the finale of a three-game series against Kansas City.
"Every time I take the mound, my goal is to put up zeroes," said Fulmer, who is 9-2 with a 2.11 ERA. "With the defense I have and the way the catchers have been calling the game, it's been real easy, honestly. I'm just trusting him and trusting my defense."
Fulmer knows he can't keep this up over the long haul. He's trying to avoid getting wrapped up in the overwhelmingly successful start to his MLB career.
"It all comes back to staying level-headed and staying humble," the 23-year-old right-hander said. "This is a humbling game. This is a game of failure, it really is."
One of his two losses came against the Royals, though he only gave up one run in that June outing. He did walk a season-high four batters in his 5 2/3-innings stint.
"They're the World Series champs for a reason," he said. "It's a good lineup. I felt at times I had to pitch around a few guys."
By adding a changeup to his fastball-slider combination, Fulmer has kept most hitters off-balance. He made his debut in late April after Shane Greene went to the disabled list with a blister issue and never looked back.
"My goal the first three, four or five starts was just to stay here," he said. "I knew there was a possibility I could get sent down when Greeny came off the DL. I kind of took it as motivation to see how long I could stay up here."
His mound opponent will be facing his favorite team, at least on paper. Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura has six of his 33 career victories against the Tigers. He's 6-0 with a 3.27 ERA in eight outings against them, including seven starts.
Ventura has lost his last three starts, though he only allowed three runs in seven innings to Seattle in his last appearance.
"Out of his last five outings, he's had four very encouraging outings," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We see signs of him starting to understand who he is a little bit and how to harness that powerful fastball that he has."
The pitching staff got a boost on Saturday when premier closer Wade Davis was activated off the 15-day disabled list. Davis pitched a scoreless inning in the Royals' 8-4 victory on Saturday night.
Davis' return provides more clarity to bullpen roles, with fill-in closer Kelvin Herrera returning to his eighth-inning duties and Luke Hochevar and Joakim Soria resuming sixth and seventh-inning duties.
"He's one of the best relievers in the game," Yost said. "We had to go a couple of weeks without that but we felt like we had it covered. It just gives us another quality arm we can put in the back of that pen."