One swing of the bat wiped away the Detroit Tigers‘ seven-game winning streak.
Despite the Tigers (47-52) holding the Kansas City Royals hitless through 2⅔ innings, Ryan O’Hearn’s three-run home run in the fourth was enough to hand Detroit a 5-3 loss Friday in the series opener at Kauffman Stadium.
The Tigers had won their first seven games coming out of the All-Star break, sweeping a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins and a four-game set with the Texas Rangers.
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Right-hander Wily Peralta entered the game with a 0.34 ERA over 26⅔ innings in his past five starts (along with a season-long 1.64 ERA across seven games). But on Friday, Peralta allowed five runs on five hits and three walks, with three strikeouts, across 5⅔ innings. He threw 51 of 85 pitches for strikes. All five of his swings and misses came from his changeup, and just seven of his 41 fastballs went for called strikes.
Peralta’s ERA jumped to 2.56.
The Tigers got some runs back against Royals reliever Kyle Zimmer, after Willi Castro and Derek Hill advanced into scoring position with one out in the seventh inning. They moved up because of Zimmer’s wild pitch, and a second wild pitch — this time with two outs — let Castro cross home plate.
Jonathan Schoop followed with an RBI single, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
Through the first two innings, Peralta was perfect. He got on just 19 pitches, including a three-pitch strikeout of O’Hearn — dispatching him with a changeup — to end the second frame.
A leadoff walk put Peralta in a tough spot in the third, but he responded with consecutive outs. He sprayed two sliders, however, to Whit Merrifield, who singled to left field to score Hunter Dozier for a 1-1 tie.
Merrifield’s line-drive single was the first hit Peralta allowed.
The Royals continued to add pressure, thanks to a leadoff single from Salvador Perez in the fourth. Jorge Soler drew a one-out walk — forcing Peralta to throw him eight pitches in the plate appearance — to set the table for O’Hearn’s three-run shot.
O’Hearn watched a fastball and changeup to get ahead 2-0 in the count before tagging Peralta’s fastball down the middle. Carlos Santana tacked on a solo home run in the fifth inning for his 16th homer this season, and a four-run margin.
After Dozier’s two-out triple, left-handed reliever Derek Holland replaced Peralta. He kept the Royals from scoring by getting Jarrod Dyson to groundout to third base. Holland recorded four outs in a row, and Daniel Norris struck out three of the four batters he faced in the eighth inning.
Double plays hurt Tigers
The Royals produced three double plays in a four-inning span, doing so in the third, fourth and sixth innings. The two in the fourth and sixth ended the innings, both coming from Zack Short at-bats.
The most impactful double play occurred in the sixth.
Schoop (single) and Miguel Cabrera (walk) reached, followed by Jeimer Candelario loading the bases on Santana’s fielding error at first base. With one out, the Tigers were threatening Kansas City starter Kris Bubic.
But Short hacked at a 2-0 fastball and grounded to short to start the double play.
Short’s fourth-inning GIDP came with runners on first and third base. He finished 0-for-4 with one strikeout and stranded five runners.
The Tigers scored their first run in the third inning, when Castro crushed a first-pitch fastball to left-center field for a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, Robbie Grossman grounded into a double play, though, to kill the building momentum.
Bubic gave the Royals six strong innings, allowing one run on six hits and two walks. He struck out four batters and threw 56 of 91 pitches for strikes.
With his single in the sixth inning, Schoop extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games. In his past 13 games, the 29-year-old has a .367 batting average (20-for-52) with one home run, 11 RBIs, two walks and nine strikeouts.
Schoop is hitting .290 in 95 games this season.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.