Detroit Tigers catcher Austin Romine showed pop in his bat.
But he was the only one from the Tigers’ lineup to do so Tuesday in an 8-4 loss against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Stumbling in front of their division foe, the Tigers (9-6) couldn’t build upon a four-game winning streak.
The White Sox (9-9) scored four of their first five on home runs against left-hander Tyler Alexander, making his first start of the season. Then, down 6-2 in the seventh, Tigers reliever Carson Fulmer entered and gave up two runs to his former team.
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Had it not been for Romine’s two-run homer in the fifth, the White Sox would’ve blanked the Tigers until the ninth. Romine finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and improved his batting average to .308 this season.
The three-game series finale is at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday and features left-hander Matthew Boyd, who is 0-1 with a 9.20 ERA in three starts.
Return to rotation
The White Sox put out a starting lineup of all right-handed batters in hopes of tripping up Alexander, and they were successful. After four appearances out of the bullpen, the 26-year-old got the starting nod from manager Ron Gardenhire because of his record nine consecutive strikeouts.
But the Chicago bats were too much for Alexander, who allowed five runs on four hits and three walks in 3⅔ innings, only striking out twice. Alexander couldn’t get the final out of the fourth, and after 58 pitches (34 strikes), he was replaced by Rule 5 pick Rony Garcia.
Entering the game, Alexander let righties (193 at-bats) hit .306 against him with 59 hits, 12 doubles, three triples and eight homers in his career. And in 56 at-bats against lefties? A .232 average, 13 hits, one double and two home runs.
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Alexander allowed seven baserunners (four hits), but the real damage was done with home runs. Eloy Jimenez caught an 80 mph curveball in the first inning, and slugger Edwin Encarnacion yanked a slider 410 feet to left field. Those two hits combined for four runs.
When the Tigers placed C.J. Cron on the 10-day injured list Tuesday with a left knee sprain, Gardenhire shifted his batting order to include left fielder Victor Reyes in the No. 2 spot and shortstop Jonathan Schoop in the cleanup role.
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But Gardenhire might have forgotten to check the splits before putting Schoop behind Miguel Cabrera. In his eight-year career, Schoop is 23-for-110 (.209) in the four-hole with four homers and 12 RBIs in 27 games. That is his worst spot beside leadoff, where he is 1-for-20 in six games.
“I just put him in there because he’s big and can hit,” Gardenhire said before the game. “I didn’t ask him. I just put him in there for today, and I’m gonna talk to him about it as we go on.”
Schoop went 1-for-3 with one strikeout and one walk. Reyes had never hit second in the order and went 2-for-4 (one double) — extending his hitting streak to five games.
Rony in relief
Garcia went 2⅓ innings to get the bullpen through the sixth inning. He tossed 18 fastballs, which averaged 93.2 mph, to accompany 10 sliders and three changeups. The 22-year-old cruised through four outs — all on contact — before trouble in the sixth.
When the Tigers needed a shutout inning, Garcia gave up a one-out RBI single for a 6-2 White Sox lead. He retired the next two batters — Luis Robert and Danny Mendick — on flyouts before Fulmer took over in the seventh.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.