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Apr 24, 2024 7:30 am

Rays’ Tyler Alexander in stopper role with Tigers seeking sweep

Tyler Alexander

Tyler Alexander could be a little pumped Wednesday night when he takes the mound against his former club for the first time in the Tampa Bay Rays’ series finale against the Detroit Tigers in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The left-hander was a waiver-wire acquisition by the Rays from Detroit in November and made Tampa’s final roster out of spring camp.

The Rays had a role for the soft-tossing Alexander in mind: Position him behind a fire-balling right-hander like Ryan Pepiot. The idea is throwing opposing batters’ timing off with a more finesse-oriented style.

Preparing for his fifth appearance and third start in 2024, Alexander (1-0, 4.79 ERA) has allowed 11 runs and 22 hits in 20 2/3 innings as he adjusts to his new club and his role as the final starter in manager Kevin Cash’s rotation.

The Rays placed closer Pete Fairbanks on the 15-day injured list due to a nerve issue that remains a mystery to the club.

The right-hander blew a save a week ago against the Los Angeles Angels and was sick over the weekend and did not pitch versus the New York Yankees.

“We’ll continue to kind of check boxes to see if we can narrow it down,” Cash said of the nerve issue. “Not sure where it’s going to go but felt like it was time to rest him and let’s run some imaging from his neck to his shoulder, all the way down to the fingers, to see if we can see anything.”

After dropping a 7-1 decision in the series opener on Monday, Cash’s bullpen squandered a one-run lead in the eighth inning on Tuesday as Riley Greene belted a two-run homer and Mark Canha also went deep. The Tigers posted a 4-2 win to hand the Rays their third straight loss.

Tampa Bay’s Isaac Paredes pounded his team-leading sixth home run in the setback. Amed Rosario went 0-for-3 to see his 14-game hitting streak come to a close.

Detroit won its third straight game and was encouraged by Kenta Maeda’s best start of the season (five scoreless innings), despite committing three errors.

The late uprising allowed the Tigers to improve to 10-3 on the road this season.

“Our guys hung in there,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “Good things can happen late in games, especially when Riley Greene is involved. Lots to talk about, lots to be encouraged about going for the sweep tomorrow.”

To close out its six-game road trip, Detroit will turn to Jack Flaherty before it heads home to start a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals.

The right-handed Flaherty (0-1, 4.44) has made four starts but has been better over his past two, totaling 12 1/3 innings while allowing five earned runs and 10 hits.

His most impressive stat across 24 1/3 innings is his strikeout-to-walk ratio (30-4). He is averaging a career-best 11.1 whiffs per nine innings and just 1.5 walks.

In one career start against the Rays on Sept. 15, Flaherty took the loss when he allowed three runs on six hits in four innings after being traded to the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 1.

–Field Level Media

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