Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch praised Tyler Alexander for his consistency in fearlessly attacking hitters; the skipper said he wanted to see the left-hander’s resilience Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox.
That he did.
Alexander — who relies on command rather than velocity — held the Red Sox scoreless until the sixth inning. Boston’s offense, though, didn’t go quietly, chasing Alexander with a three-run sixth to tie the game.
The Tigers never regained their advantage, losing 5-3 in front of 15,781 fans at Comerica Park in the second of three games in the series. All-Star Rafael Devers delivered the go-ahead RBI single off righty reliever Alex Lange in the eighth inning.
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The Tigers (2-3) beat the Red Sox on Monday, so they still have a chance to win the series in Wednesday’s rubber match, with lefty Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound against his former team.
Outfielder Robbie Grossman left the game before the seventh inning with right groin tightness.
Tork breaks through
Red Sox starter Rich Hill, a 42-year-old left-hander in his 17th MLB season, countered Alexander’s success through the first two innings, but the Tigers tagged the Michigan alumnus for three runs in the third frame.
The scoring was sparked by Spencer Torkelson, who produced a one-out bloop double to center for the first hit of his MLB career. The Tigers’ top prospect finished 1-for-3 with one strikeout.
Torkelson, 22, is hitting .077 in five games this season.
Dustin Garneau put runners on the corners with his single, and Torkelson scored on Grossman’s groundout for a 1-0 lead. Jonathan Schoop (single) and Javier Báez (double) picked up back-to-back RBI hits to make it 3-0.
Hill allowed three runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts in 4⅓ innings, tossing 54 of 70 pitches for strikes. The Tigers averaged an 88 mph exit velocity against him, with Báez’s double an outlier at 110.8 mph.
The Red Sox replaced Hill with righty reliever Hirokazu Sawamura.
Alexander to cut(ter) above
Alexander allowed three runs on five hits, without conceding a walk, in 5⅓ innings. He produced four strikeouts, two of which came on elevated cutters against Enrique Hernandez and Devers to open the first inning.
He also struck out Jonathan Arauz (sinker) in the third and Bobby Dalbec (cutter) in the fifth. In the fourth, Alexander allowed back-to-back one-out singles to Devers and Xander Bogaerts, but JD Martinez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, from Báez to Schoop to Torkelson.
The Red Sox scored three runs in the sixth on Hernandez’s RBI double, Devers’ RBI single and — eleven righty reliever Jacob Barnes replaced Alexander — Martinez’s RBI double down the right-field line.
All three runs were charged to Alexander.
For his 73 pitches (49 strikes), Alexander used 34 sinkers (47%), 17 changeups (23%), 13 cutters (18%), six sliders (6%) and three four-seam fastballs (4%). He has notched eight swings and misses: three sinkers, two changeups and three cutters. He also had 11 called strikes, including seven with his sinker and three with his cutters.
Alexander’s cutter, averaging 85 mph, was his best pitch.
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Extra work for Lange
After Alexander, the Tigers burned through five relievers: Barnes, Joe Jimenez, Lange, Will Vest and Jason Foley.
Lange, the first pitcher Hinch has used on back-to-back days, gave up the go-ahead run as part of a poor eighth inning. He walked Hernandez on four pitches, then allowed him to take a second with a wild pitch.
Then, Devers put the Red Sox ahead with his single to center field. Vest replaced Lange and recorded the final two outs in the eighth, but not before Cristian Arroyo ripped an RBI single to put Boston up 5-3.
Both runs were charged to Lange.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism