Baltimore, Md. — The rather sudden hiring of Scott Harris as president of baseball operations wasn’t the only plot twist Monday night.
Tyler Alexander might’ve bent a plot line or two himself.
The Tigers were 1-12 in his starts this season and his last few have been an absolute grind. He’d been tagged for 19 earned runs in 17 innings, yielding seven home runs and a .760 slugging percentage in his last four starts.
The Orioles saw a very different version of this veteran left-hander.
Throwing his four-seamer with precision and moving his cutter and changeup to different sides of the plate, Alexander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 11-0 romp.
He’d allowed two walks and got three sterling defensive plays behind him. Gunnar Henderson in the second inning hit a bullet directly over the head of Riley Greene in center field. The ball traveled 406 feet but Greene, though he spun the wrong way at first, recovered and caught the ball as he was banging into the wall.
In the third, shortstop Javier Báez made a swiping backhand catch of a liner hit by Ramon Urias. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 108 mph.
Then in the sixth, third baseman Ryan Kreidler made a sliding backhand stab of a ball hit down the line, got up fast and made a strong throw across the diamond that Spencer Torkelson scooped up at first base.
Alexander only got five swings and misses but he was keeping the Orioles’ hitters off-balance, as evidenced by 14 called strikes, nine with his fastball.
He struck out Adley Rutschman, Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander in succession between the first and second innings – all looking. Rutschman and Mountcastle were frozen by cutters and Santander took a 3-2 fastball.
Alas, the intrigue came to an abrupt end in the seventh. Mountcastle led off with a broken-bat single to center and Santander followed with another single to center.
Alexander didn’t flinch, though. He struck out Jesus Aguilar and got Henderson to bounce into a 4-3 double-play, with Jonathan Scoop making a heads-up tag on Santander before throwing Henderson out at first.
The Orioles put 18 balls in play against Alexander with an average exit velocity of 84.8 mph – mild.
And how about 11 runs from the offense? Even if the last two came off outfielder Ryan McKenna.
The way things have been going lately, you almost expected things stall early when Orioles manager Brandon Hyde hastily went to his bullpen with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning.
Rookie Ryan Kreidler, who was in a 0-for-17 skid at the time, worked a bases loaded walk to put the Tigers up 2-0. With switch-hitter Tucker Barnhart and left-handed hitters Akil Baddoo and Riley Greene coming up, the move to lefty DL Hall seemed prescient.
Especially after Hall punched out Barnhart.
But the Tigers were in plot-bending mode. After Hall uncorked a wild pitch to score one run, Baddoo followed with a two-run single and Greene, fighting through a 3-for-21 skid of his own, drove an RBI double to the cap in right-center field.
Greene wasn’t done hitting bullets off left-handed pitchers, either. In the sixth against lefty Keegan Akin, he rifled a 94-mph fastball inside the bag at first and into the right field corner, scoring Kreidler from third and Baddoo, once again, from first.
Torkelson had two doubles and a single and scored three times. Kreidler had a productive night with a walk, hit by pitch, single, sacrifice fly, scoring twice and knocking in three.
Miguel Cabrera, in his first game back off the injured list, had two hits, an RBI and scored a run. The two hits tied him with Cap Anson (3,081) for 24th place on Major League Baseball’s all-time hit list.
Tigers are unbeaten in the Harris era.