Two-out hits doom Tyler Alexander as Detroit Tigers fall 6-2 to Colorado Rockies

Two-out hits doom Tyler Alexander as Detroit Tigers fall 6-2 to Colorado Rockies

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That pesky third out.

It’s said to be the toughest one to get in baseball and that proved to be the case for Detroit Tigers starter Tyler Alexander on Sunday.

With two outs in the first inning he gave up an RBI single, with two outs in the third he allowed a two-run home run and with two outs in the fifth he gave up a two-run single.

Those make-or-break at-bats were the difference, as the Tigers fell to the Colorado Rockies, 6-2 on Sunday.

The Tigers (6-9) have lost four of five series this season.

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Detroit Tigers starter Tyler Alexander (70) pitches against the Colorado Rockies during first-inning action on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Alexander, generally economical with his pitch count, had just one stress free frame, which came in a 10-pitch 1-2-3 second inning.

The first inning saw three hits, a Charlie Blackmon double, an RBI infield single by CJ Cron and another single by Randal Grichuk before he got out of the jam after throwing 23 pitches.

In the third, Alexander had given up just an infield single before recording two outs, when he left a change up too high to Grichuk, who hit the ball 108.7 mph off the bat into the Rockies bullpen in left field. 3-0 Colorado.

In the bottom of the frame, Detroit did some two-out damage of its own, when Austin Meadows laced a single into right field, scoring Tucker Barnhart who’d reached on a lead-off double.

But Alexander couldn’t put up a zero in the next frame. Again, he’d fallen victim to an Iglesias infield single, but appeared to be close to working past it when he struck out Alan Trejo for the second out.

Manager A.J. Hinch talks with Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander and catcher Tucker Barnhart during third-inning action vs. the Colorado Rockies, Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Manager A.J. Hinch talks with Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tyler Alexander and catcher Tucker Barnhart during third-inning action vs. the Colorado Rockies, Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Two batters later, a lined-shot down the left field line for a double by Connor Joe and a two-run single off the bat of Blackmon resulted in two more runs and the end of Alexander’s day with Detroit trailing 5-1.

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Rony Garcia came in to get out of the jam, but the damage was done, with Alexander’s line was finishing at 3⅔ innings, giving up five earned runs on eight hits and a walk with jus two strikeouts.

The two-out demons extended beyond Alexander. Garcia was bit as well, giving up a two-out RBI single to left field to Ryan McMahon in the top of the fifth.

The Tigers chances came few and far between, but their best opportunity surfaced in the bottom of the sixth, when Robbie Grossman reached on an infield single and Meadows walked to open the frame.

Up came Baez, who worked the count full, before swinging and missing at a slider that would’ve been ball four. In the next at bat, Jemier Candelario hit a pop up to short left field, and three Rockies converged on it.

Detroit Tigers left fielder Austin Meadows (17) singles against Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Kuhl (not pictured) during third-inning action on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers left fielder Austin Meadows (17) singles against Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Kuhl (not pictured) during third-inning action on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

It dropped in front of Kris Bryant, but because it appeared as if it would be caught, Grossman had to hold at second. By the time he was able to run to third, it was too late and he was thrown out by one step.

Jonathan Schoop’s fly out to center would end the rally.

The Tigers would rally again in the seventh inning, Barnhart with a single and Akil Baddoo with a walk both with two outs, brining up Grossman who laced a single to right to score a run and cut the deficit to 6-2.

Meadows would rip a line drive to left-center field — 105 mph off the bat, with a .660 expected batting average — but Grichuk was positioned perfectly and ran it down in the gap to end the rally.

Detroit never threatened again.

Offense stays quiet

Saturday afternoon was a historic game for the Tigers, with Miguel Cabrera recording his 3,000th hit and driving in two runs. The positive vibes resonated through the lineup, scoring a season-high 13 runs on a season-best 20 hits.

However, that game’s production has proved to be the outlier rather than the trend. Outside of that contest, the Tigers have scored three runs or fewer their past seven games and 11 of their past 12.

They’ve scored more than four runs just twice through 15 games.

Pregame, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch and players mentioned the boost they’d hoped to get by adding Javy Baez, who hadn’t played since April 12, back into the lineup.

Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez (28) bats against Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Kuhl (not pictured) during first-inning action on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez (28) bats against Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Kuhl (not pictured) during first-inning action on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Instead, Baez looked the part of someone who hadn’t played in nearly two weeks, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

The Tigers as a whole looked off balance vs. Chad Kuhl, who went six innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. His money pitch on the day was the slider, which generated 14 whiffs on 21 swings.

The power stroke has been missing as well. Detroit has just three home runs in the past 10 days, all by Spencer Torkelson. The last Tiger other than the rookie to hit a long ball was Baddoo on April 13.

Bullpen continues to impress

It comes as a footnote in a game that saw the Tigers trail from the very first inning, but quietly the bullpen has been the brightest spot of the team in the early stages of the season.

Detroit entered play Sunday with the fifth best bullpen ERA (2.35) in all of baseball and that only improved after another solid afternoon. Combined, the bullpen threw 5⅓ innings, giving up just one earned run with three hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

The Tigers’ bullpen WHIP (1.09) and WAR (0.7) also ranked in the top 10 in the league entering play.

Garcia threw 2⅓ innings of one-run ball, before Jacob Barnes threw a seven-pitch seventh inning and Joe Jimenez struck out two batters in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth.

Michael Fulmer came on in the ninth and worked around a two-out walk and single to get out of the frame with a scoreless inning on a diving grab by Schoop.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers allow all 6 runs with 2 outs in loss to Rockies

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