Rangers 7, Tigers 6: Texas mashes Tyler Alexander early, late rally not enough

Bless You Boys

It was not Tyler Alexander’s night on Friday against the Texas Rangers. The Detroit Tigers’ lefty put his team in a hole early and was out of the game by the start of the fourth inning. The Tigers couldn’t come all the way back from such a large deficit, but they did their fair share of scoring in the 7-6 loss.

Nathaniel Lowe took Alexander deep in the first inning. He left a cutter over the heart of the plate and Lowe launched a 449-foot homer to dead center that came off the bat at 109 miles per hour.

Things went from bad to worse quickly in the second as Alexander gave up three straight hits after getting a quick first out. The third hit in that series was another home run, a three-run blow from Ezequiel Duran, and the Tigers were quickly down a four-spot. Three of the Rangers’ first four hits came off Alexander’s cutter, which clearly wasn’t working tonight.

The Tigers’ offense fought back in the top of the third, though. Jeimer Candelario doubled to open things up and Akil Baddoo moved him over to third with a ground out up the middle. Riley Greene drove in Candelario with a single to left field, and then Victor Reyes walked on four straight pitches. Javier Báez nearly killed the momentum with a double-play ball to short, but he beat it out at first in time to keep things going.

Harold Castro came through with an RBI single that cut the score to 4-2, and Báez went first to third with Miguel Cabrera up next. Miggy tapped it back to Rangers starter Glenn Otto to end the inning, stalling the comeback… for now.

Texas played long ball for the third time in as many innings in the bottom half of the frame. Mark Mathias drove this one out and brought in Leody Taveras with him. Adolis Garcia manufactured a run before that putting the Tigers down a five-spot, 7-2. Alexander’s night came to an end after he got out of the inning, and he made his anger evident by slamming his glove upon returning to the dugout.

This was his worst outing of the year and he gave up more runs than he did in all of June and July combined. The month of August hasn’t been kind to Alexander; he’s going to finish with a 1-4 record and a 5.88 ERA. His season metrics are approaching dangerous levels as well. His 11.9% strikeout rate is nearly half his 20% career average coming into the year and opposing batters have a line drive rate of 25.0 % against him. If you need a translation, those numbers mean he’s very hittable this year, more so than ever before.

They’ve figured him out.

Garrett Hill relieved Alexander in the fourth — his first relief appearance of the year — and promptly struck out the side. Perhaps he should have started instead of Alexander today. Once again, the offense strung together a two-run rally in the top of the fifth. Riley Greene must have been watching the Little League World Series recently because he rounded the bags on a play you’d see at that level.

Greene drove a ball to right field that Garcia thought he could get if he laid out for it. He couldn’t, and Akil Baddoo took off with Greene close in tow. By the time the ball was recovered, Baddoo had made it around the bags easily, but an errant throw sent Greene off toward home plate. With the same wide eyes he has when he gets ready to lay out for a ball in center field, Greene dove into home and was called safe. It’s not officially a home run, but it was just as fun and effective. The deficit was back to a manageable three runs.

Hill couldn’t keep up his 100% strikeout rate as a reliever for another inning, but he did cruise through the fifth after surrendering a leadoff walk. Otto came out of the game for Texas to start the sixth, giving way to lefty Taylor Hearn. The Tigers couldn’t figure him out and went down in order, bringing Hill back out for the sixth. He gave up a pair of hits this time around, but a double-play and strikeout got him out of it unscathed.

Not much happened over the next two innings. Jason Foley came in to pitch the seventh for Detroit, and Jose Cisnero pitched the eighth. Neither gave up any runs, but the Tigers needed to score and seemingly ran out of steam after picking up a decent bit of momentum. They got a baserunner against Heard in the seventh and Jonathan Hernandez in the eighth but couldn’t score either time.

Jose Leclerc came in to close things out for the Rangers in the ninth. He walked Candelario on five pitches and then got Baddoo to strike out swinging. It would have been nice for Baddoo to get on because Riley Greene hit a home run in the next at-bat. A two-run jack is great, but Detroit needed three to threaten extra innings and Baddoo was simply too aggressive for the moment. Taking a rip first pitch against a closer who surrendered a leadoff walk is one thing, but once that failed much better discipline was required.

Victor Reyes singled to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but Báez whiffed on a slider and Harold Castro fanned at a fastball outside of the zone to end the game. Good try, boys, but no dice. Detroit will try and tie up the series tomorrow at 7:05 EDT.

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