A serious argument could be made that Tyler Alexander serves as the glue of the Tigers’ pitching staff, but he did himself no favors on Sunday afternoon. Taking on the task of starting against Colorado following the Tigers’ split with them during Saturday’s doubleheader, Alexander seemed well suited for the task. The opposing lineup is lefty-laden, and the Tigers’ starter has had much more success against his fellow southpaws than opposite-handed righties.
Instead of the quiet outing he was probably hoping for, the Rockies slapped him around and he was out of the ballgame without finishing the fourth inning. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ offense slumbered through another long day at the dish.
Credit where it’s due, Alexander was able to hold things together through the first two innings. Demonstrating his usual stinginess with the strike zone, the Colorado starters were only able to extract one walk from him. (Tangentially, of the 865 total batters Alexander has faced in his major league career, only 194 have reached a 3-ball count.) On the other hand, conserving walks doesn’t do much good when the opposing hitters get a good bat on the ball as often as the Rockies did today.
Colorado got five runs off of eight hits while Alexander was on the mound. Their onslaught was punctuated by new Rockies outfielder Randal Grichuk bombing his first home run of the season. It was a two-run shot, driving in Charlie Blackmon from second base. Blackmon proceeded to pay it forward by sending Connor Joe across home plate in the fourth, this time resulting in the run that knocked Alexander out of the game.
Randal Grichuk vs Tyler Alexander#Rockies— Would it dong? (@would_it_dong) April 24, 2022
Exit velo: 108.7 mph
Launch angle: 22 deg
Proj. distance: 414 ft
This would have been a home run in 27/30 MLB ballparks
COL (3) @ DET (0)
Meanwhile, the Tigers' bats went icy again as Chad Kuhl mowed them down through five innings. Detroit put together a micro-rally in the third inning, kicked off with a Tucker Barnhart double, moved over to third by Akil Baddoo’s groundout and scored by Austin Meadows. Tigers hitters went right back to struggling afterward and came away with only one run to show for it.
It wasn’t until the sixth that they made a dent again. Robbie Grossman singled in a bang-bang play at first base. It didn’t result in a challenge from the Colorado dugout but was close enough to make TV viewers wonder in the split second before the ump’s safe call. Austin Meadows — of course, it was Meadows — walked and put men on first and second for the first time in this game. Kuhl got Javy Báez swinging on a 3-2 count and Jeimer Candelario got a hit in the next at-bat, but it came at the expense of a force out at third. The inning came to an end without a run thanks to weak contact and an easy out by Jonathan Schoop.
Kuhl’s day was an irrefutable success and he set a franchise record in the process.
Chad Kuhl – Chad Kuhl – has a 1.10 ERA. He's given up two runs in 16 1/3 innings. Never before in Rockies history, dating to 1993, had a pitcher started his first three games with so few runs allowed.— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) April 24, 2022
On the pitching side of things, Rony García bumped 96 miles per hour once and hit 95 throughout his 1.1 innings. His outing was a respectable one, all told, giving the Tigers every opportunity to get back in the game. He allowed only one run to score and struck out Kris Bryant in the process. His command is still shoddy, as it has been all along since being selected in the Rule 5 draft, but his stuff seems to have taken a baby step forward. Admittedly, he will lob in a dud curveball or two, but he doesn’t throw anything straight. His velocity has ticked up a bit now that he’s finally shaken off his nagging injuries from the past two seasons and he could be a useable piece this season.
Detroit got some relief in the seventh. Plating another run by way of a Barnhart single that moved into scoring Baddoo, who walked, and Grossman, who put the ball in the gap. That little sequence came with two outs already on the board and Meadows lined out to put an end to the inning.
The Rockies mostly stagnated against the Tigers relief corps. Jacob Barnes, Joe Jimenez, and Michael Fulmer were not without tribulation but didn’t allow any runs during their appearances. It didn’t make much of a difference. The game was already too far gone by that point.
Detroit’s bats went quietly, with only Jonathan Schoop notching a single during the final innings of the game. Rockies relief arm Carlos Estévez handled the bottom of the Tigers’ lineup without much trouble and the game drew to an uneventful close. The lone bright spot, if you can call it that, was Eric Haase working his way to a 3-2 count. He’s been doing that a lot this season, which doesn’t conform to his free-swinging career batting trends. His batting average isn’t much to look at but he’s been forcing opposing pitchers to earn their outs against him, which is a welcome development.