Tyler Alexander set a major league record as a reliever.
Now, he’ll try to prove he deserves a spot in the Detroit Tigers’ rotation.
In his last appearance, Alexander struck out nine consecutive Cincinnati Reds batters to set a record for a reliever. It also tied the American League record for any pitcher, a mark set by another former Tiger, Doug Fister.
Alexander (1-0, 1.17 ERA) will start the second game of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday at Detroit’s Comerica Park.
“Alexander has been dominant, my goodness,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said last week. “He has what, nine straight strikeouts, set a record? As a manager you start thinking, ‘Who’s going good here?'”
The 26-year-old left-hander finished that outing with 10 strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. He has made four relief appearances this season after starting in eight of his 13 major league outings as a rookie last season.
Half of those starts came against the White Sox. He had an 0-2 record and a 5.30 ERA vs. Chicago.
Gardenhire is keeping an open mind on where Alexander fits on his staff.
“He’s been a starter, so this isn’t a big deal,” Gardenhire said. “It’s what he wants to do. It’s an easy change. We’ll see as we go along how he does.”
Alexander will face another left-hander, Gio Gonzalez (0-1, 7.71). The White Sox signed him to a two-year deal with a team option in December.
Thus far, it’s been a rough go for Gonzalez. He has allowed 10 earned runs and a combined 27 hits and walks in 11 2/3 innings.
In his last outing on Thursday, he gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. The 34-year-old is 2-4 with a 6.68 ERA in seven career starts against Detroit.
The Tigers won the series opener 5-1 on Monday night to extend their winning streak to four games. Detroit pulled away with three runs in the seventh, including an inside-the-park homer from JaCoby Jones.
“We hung in there in a tight ballgame and came up with some big runs late, some good swings and some big plays defensively,” Gardenhire said. “Just one of those grind-’em-out type games, and it was a nice win.”
Both teams came out of Monday’s game worse for the wear. Detroit first baseman C.J. Cron injured his left knee while attempting to field a ground ball. White Sox shortstop Leury Garcia (left thumb) and first baseman Jose Abreu (hip) also departed early.
The White Sox have scored just 11 runs while dropping five of their past six games. On Monday, they went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
“Every time that we have a runner in scoring position, everyone wants to drive the run in. Nobody wants to fail in that situation,” outfielder Luis Robert said, according to MLB.com. “Maybe we have been trying to do too much. I don’t have an answer for that because we all want to take advantage of all those situations. Sadly, we haven’t taken full advantage of those situations lately, but I’m confident in our offense.”
The White Sox are hopeful they can activate shortstop Tim Anderson (groin) from the injured list on Tuesday. Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (shoulder), who hasn’t played in a week, could also return.
–Field Level Media