Detroit Tigers shortstop Zack Short flailed his bat in frustration, striking out for the sixth straight at-bat during the fifth inning Monday against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field.
That made his sixth-inning home run — the second of his career — a bit sweeter.
Short’s two-run shot to center field off Rangers reliever Brett Martin capped a five-run sixth, which included two runs scored on a double error by first baseman Nate Lowe and a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Willi Castro for another run.
With a 7-3 victory, the Tigers (39-46) improved to 30-22 since May 8.
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But Monday’s game belonged to Wily Peralta.
The veteran right-hander, making his fourth start since 2017, pitched seven scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, without conceding a walk, and struck out six batters. It was his first outing of seven innings without giving up a run since Aug. 14, 2015. Also, Peralta has not allowed an earned run over his past 16⅔ innings.
The bullpen — Erasmo Ramirez and Bryan Garcia — finished the job. Ramirez got help in his scoreless eighth inning with a spectacular double play started by Short’s diving snag and glove flip to Castro at second base. Rangers All-Star Joey Gallo crushed a two-run homer against Garcia in the ninth, and Jonah Heim followed with a solo shot.
What happened, Lowe?
The conundrum began with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning.
Nomar Mazara slapped a pitch down the first-base line, which looked like a double play opportunity. Lowe made his first of two errors when he fumbled the ball. One run scored, and then a second run scored when Lowe made a throwing error. In an attempt to recover from his first mistake, he flipped the ball toward first base and expected starting pitcher Kolby Allard to cover the bag.
But Allard never showed up.
The Tigers took a 4-0 lead on Lowe’s miscues. After Rangers manager Chris Woodward went to his bullpen, Castro pushed across another run with a sacrifice bunt. Short then put the game out of reach, 6-0, with his home run.
Another run scored in the eighth inning, thanks to Short’s sacrifice fly.
Peralta silences Rangers
Since the moment Tigers manager AJ Hinch was hired in October, he has continuously spoke at length about the starting pitching setting the tone. There’s no better example than Peralta’s performance to begin a seven-game road trip leading into the All-Star break.
The 32-year-old signed a minor-league contract in February but never showed up to spring training because of travel and work visa issues. Against the Rangers, he showed why the Tigers called on him after injuries impacted the starting rotation.
Peralta looked elite.
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He retired the first seven batters he faced before back-to-back ground-ball singles in the third inning. A bouncer back to him helped eliminate the lead runner, Nick Solak, trying to score. Peralta charged toward the third-base line and put Solak in a rundown. He was tagged out at home plate.
Peralta didn’t allow another baserunner until the seventh inning, when Adolis Garcia doubled on a ball dropped in left field by Robbie Grossman. He worked out of the jam by striking out Gallo and producing consecutive groundouts.
Against Gallo, Hinch employed a four-man outfield. He put Castro in left field, Grossman in left-center field, Akil Baddoo in right-center field and Mazara in right field. And Short, an infielder, was shifted just beyond the infield dirt on the right side of the field.
Gallo finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Peralta.
Peralta threw 61 of 91 pitches for strikes. His change-up got eight swings and misses. His other two swings and misses came from his slider, and his fastball produced 13 called strikes. Peralta tossed 54% fastballs, 29% changeups and 18% sliders.
Mazara nearly squandered the Tigers’ first scoring chance, but his hustle put a run on the scoreboard. With the bases loaded and one out, Mazara clanked a weak grounder to the second baseman, who eliminated Grossman at second base for the second out.
The relay to first base, however, wasn’t quick enough.
Mazara crossed first base before the ball reached the first baseman’s glove. As a result, Miguel Cabrera’s run put the Tigers ahead 1-0. The next batter, Castro, popped out on the first pitch he saw to end the inning.
The Tigers picked up singles from Cabrera and Grossman, as well as Jeimer Candelario’s hit by pitch, to set the table for Mazara to deliver the run. Besides the fourth, however, Allard had kept Detroit in check. He struck out three batters each in the third and fifth innings.
In the sixth, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out: Cabrera singled, Candelario doubled and Grossman drew a walk. That’s when Lowe made two errors during one play.
Instead, the Tigers took a 3-0 lead.
Allard allowed five runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks across 5⅓ innings. He struck out nine batters and threw 62 of 90 pitches for strikes.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.