Detroit — Tyler Alexander will be the first to tell you, he gives up home runs. It’s part of the package with him. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball but he attacks hitters as if he does. That fearlessness is part of what makes him effective, even if it occasionally comes back to bite him.
What he can’t abide, though, is walking hitters. So when he left the mound in the fourth inning Tuesday in his inaugural start for 2020, he wasn’t kicking himself for the two home runs he allowed as much as he was for the three walks.
Eloy Jimenez hit a three-run home run in the first, a wall-scraper to right, and Edwin Encarnacion nearly hit the giant scoreboard in left with a 410-foot solo shot as the White Sox halted the Tigers winning streak at four with an 8-4 win at Comerica Park.
Alexander, a lefty who pitched his way into the rotation with a record-setting nine consecutive strikeout effort against the Reds on Aug. 2, never found any traction Tuesday. He walked Tim Anderson to start the game, fell behind both Yasmani Grandal (single) and Jose Abreu (RBI double) and then with two outs hung a first-pitch curveball to Jimenez.
He fell behind Encarnacion leading off the fourth and then tried to throw back-to-back sliders to him — the second one left the bat at 109 mph and might’ve reached Ford Field had the scoreboard girders not been in the way.
Last season, Alexander walked seven hitters in 53 innings. So, the three walks in less than four was uncharacteristic. So too was his 24-34 ball-strike rate. He left the Tigers in a 5-0 hole.
The Tigers got two runs back and chased White Sox starter, veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez, in the fifth. Austin Romine hit a two-run home run into the bullpen in left-center, making it a 5-2 game. But that was as close as they’d get.
The White Sox pushed a run across against Tigers’ Rule 5 rookie Rony Garcia (single by Jimenez, his fourth RBI) and two more off their former teammate Carson Fulmer.
Fulmer, whom the White Sox drafted with the eighth overall pick in 2015 and designated for assignment last month, drilled Adam Eaton in the left shoulder with his first pitch. He got a little unlucky when Anderson’s ground ball to shortstop went into left field.
Niko Goodrum went to cover second because Eaton was running on the pitch. Engel scored on a ground out and Anderson came home on a double by Jose Abreu.
If there was a glimmer of light in this one for the Tigers, it was Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser, two little-used bullpen arms. They combined for six straight outs. Funkhouser's fastball, previously 93-94 in earlier outings, was ringing 98 mph on the gun. He struck out Engel and Yoan Moncada.
The Tigers (9-6), in their first game without No. 4 hitter C.J. Cron (left knee sprain), were hitless from the sixth through the eighth.
They did manage to force a White Sox pitching change in the ninth. Right-handed reliever Ian Hamilton walked the first two hitters and gave up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Harold Castro.
Veteran Steve Cishek had to come on to get the final two outs.