Tyler Alexander was feeling it Sunday. Appearing in Game 1 of Sunday’s Reds/Tigers twin bill at Comerica Park—MLB’s first seven-inning doubleheader in over a century—the left-hander gave a monumental performance, fanning 10 including nine straight over 3 2/3 hitless innings out of Detroit’s pen. Not only did the 26-year-old lower his season ERA from 2.25 to an even stingier 1.17 with Sunday’s efforts, but Alexander also etched his name in the record books, setting an MLB mark for consecutive strikeouts by a reliever.
Alexander’s 10 punch-outs were the most by a pitcher off the bench since Randy Johnson whiffed a record 16 Padres in 2001. Arriving in Detroit as a second-round pick in 2015, Alexander’s run of nine straight Ks equaled the American League standard set by Doug Fister (also of the Tigers) in 2012. Hall of Famer Tom Seaver holds the major-league record of 10 in a row accomplished in 1979.
Alexander came on in relief of Rony Garcia in the third inning, beginning his prolific stretch with a strikeout of second baseman Mike Moustakas. The TCU alum finally permitted a base-runner in the sixth, plunking Moustakas on an errant sinker to begin the frame. Unfazed, Alexander racked up his 10th K of the afternoon later that inning, getting Eugenio Suarez swinging on a nasty changeup. Alexander, who hails from Southlake, Texas (a Dallas suburb), displayed his full arsenal Sunday, recording strikeouts on a variety of pitches including five with his sinker, four on breaking balls and a changeup for good measure.
Not a bad day at the office for the second-year hurler, though his heroics didn’t stop the Tigers from dropping both games as the visiting Reds swept Sunday’s doubleheader in the Motor City.