Well we expected a strange day of baseball in Detroit. A twin bill on a rainy day, with both games set for seven innings, already had the table set for some wild baseball. We did not, however, foresee lefty Tyler Alexander striking out nine Cincinnati Reds in a row to set the all-time consecutive strikeouts record for a reliever.
Starter Rony Garcia wasn’t having a very good day out there, mainly taking damage at the hands of former Tiger Nicholas Castellanos, who homered in his first two at-bats. After Castellanos led off the third inning with a solo shot to make it 3-0 Reds, manager Ron Gardenhire had seen enough and turned to his southpaw long reliever.
Alexander started by getting Mike Moustakas on a foul tip, and then freezing Eugenio Suarez with an 0-2 fastball that locked him up. Jesse Winker in the DH spot went down on three straight pitches as well, as Alexander needed nine to K the side.
Outfielder Nick Senzel was the first Alexander victim in the fourth inning. Josh VanMeter was locked up by an 0-2 sinker next, and then after a bit of a battle, Freddy Galvis whiffed badly on a 3-2 curveball on the inside corner to make it six straight punchouts.
Catcher Tucker Barnhardt and outfielder Shogo Akiyama then struck out to lead off the fifth. The next would lead to a taste of baseball immortality.
Fittingly, it was Castellanos who stepped to the plate as the only Reds’ hitter not yet victimized by Alexander’s precision stuff. Two offspeed pitches out of the zone put Alexander down 2-0 to Castellanos, but he rallied with a curveball for a called strike. A changeup below the zone drew a whiff to even the count, and the crafty left-hander then buried a curveball down and in, with Castellanos swinging over the top as the ninth straight Reds’ hitter to go down on strikes.
With that punchout, Alexander tied former Tiger Doug Fister for the American League consecutive strikeouts record, as well as the Tigers’ franchise mark. Fister turned the trick in a memorable start against the Kansas City Royals back in September of 2012. The major league record is 10 straight punchouts and held by Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, who completed the feat in 1970 as a member of the New York Mets in a game against the San Diego Padres.
What happened in the sixth? Alexander hit Mike Moustakas with a 1-2 offering to end the streak. He then punched out Suarez again for his 10th of the day. Incredible.
Catcher Austin Romine deserves some credit credit for leading Alexander beautifully throughout the run. His game calling and receiving ability have been a vast improvement over the catching the club has had on tap for much of the last half decade.
Congratulations to Tyler Alexander from all of us here at Bless You Boys. From a sixth starter with a crafty left-hander profile, who didn’t have great strikeout touch or stuff in the minors, he’s really come on over the past year. He’s defied the odds and become a valuable and flexible part of the Tigers’ bullpen. In the process, he may well have earned himself another look in the starting rotation at some point.
Tyler Alexander faced nine batters.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 2, 2020
He struck out ALL NINE. #DetroitRoots pic.twitter.com/vUyk9SziMl
The baseball pitched by Tyler Alexander to record his ninth consecutive strikeout, a record for a relief pitcher, has been collected and authenticated. https://t.co/gcFXTMq8Ym pic.twitter.com/X6z17oafy0— Tigers Authentics (@DETAuthentics) August 2, 2020
According to @EliasSports, Alexander is the first pitcher to have 10 consecutive outs via strikeout since Jacob deGrom on 8/23/19 vs. Atlanta. The last Tigers pitcher to accomplish this was Justin Verlander on 9/23/13 at Minnesota.— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) August 2, 2020