Detroit Tigers right-hander Wily Peralta pitched with authority in Tuesday’s start at Comerica Park.
His fastball averaged 95 mph and his slider — which typically sits around 82 mph — stunned at 85 mph. Armed with some of the best weaponry he has flashed this season, the 32-year-old posted six scoreless innings against the National League Central leaders.
Peralta seemed amped up because he was facing his former team (from 2012-17) in a duel with Milwaukee Brewers starter Freddy Peralta. Although they aren’t related, both pitchers are represented by the same agency: REP1 Baseball.
But in this matchup, neither starter came out on top.
Before the seventh inning, the two-game series opener was delayed for one hour, 45 minutes due to rain. The scoreless tie wasn’t snapped until bottom of the 11th inning, when Derek Hill doubled to center off Hunter Strickland to score Victor Reyes, the free extra-inning runner, for a 1-0 victory.
“Going into it, AJ (Hinch, manager) told me if I didn’t get (the bunt) down within the first two, just to swing away with two strikes,” Hill said. “I’m thankful for how the boys battled the entire game. I just came in and did what I tried to do to help the team.”
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After Derek Holland and Kyle Funkhouser covered the Tigers’ first six outs following the delay, Gregory Soto completed a perfect ninth. In the bottom half of the ninth, the Brewers called on closer Josh Hader — who entered with a 1.42 ERA over 50⅔ innings — to protect the tie and send the contest to extra innings.
Hader walked three batters in a row with one out: Jonathan Schoop on seven pitches, Robbie Grossman on five pitches and Miguel Cabrera on six pitches. Hader, though, didn’t show any nerves. He simply responded by striking out Jeimer Candelario and Eric Haase to leave the bases loaded.
“He can dial it up with the best of them,” Hinch said. “No situation is too big for Josh Hader. He’s the back end of an elite team for a reason. He showed us exactly why. We were patient. I liked those at-bats. Candy and Haase were doing their best to move the ball forward to give us a chance to win in regulation, but he beat us.”
Once Soto pitched his second straight scoreless inning, the Tigers were positioned for a walk-off winner in the bottom of the 10th. Serving as the extra-inning runner, Haase stood at second base until pinch-hitter Harold Castro’s one-out groundout advanced him to third. (Before Castro’s at-bat, Niko Goodrum struck out on a foul bunt.) As the Tigers turned up the pressure, Brewers reliever Jake Cousins got Reyes to bounce out, sending the game to the 11th inning.
Hinch went to righty Bryan Garcia for the top of the 11th.
Garcia loaded the bases — Pablo Reyes (free runner), Lorenzo Cain (single) and Eduardo Escobar (four-pitch walk) — to bring up former NL MVP Christian Yelich with one out. In a 3-1 count, Yelich grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Once again, the Tigers had a chance to strike.
This time, they were successful.
“This is a nice reminder that we can win any day’s game,” Hinch said. “We got one here in about 12 hours. We’re going to dial it up again and try to beat this team again before they leave town. It’s not easy, obviously. But if you want to play with the big boys, you got to play like the big boys. That’s what we’re trying to do against good teams: defend ourselves and win some games.”
The Tigers had their best chance to score off Peralta in the sixth inning, just before the rain delay. Willi Castro opened with a single. After Reyes and Akil Baddoo struck out swinging, Schoop was hit by a fastball.
Advancing a runner into scoring position for the first time, Grossman had an opportunity to break the tie. But he swung at a 3-0 fastball and popped out to shortstop, thus stranding two runners and ending the sixth inning.
“I don’t think it’s that tough for our team,” Hill said. “We’re built for the long haul to compete, all the way from the first pitch to the last pitch. I feel like that’s the culture we’ve instilled in this club, and it’s exciting to watch.”
Throwing six scoreless, Peralta conceded just two hits and struck out nine.
The 25-year-old also plunked two batters: Candelario in the second inning and Schoop in the sixth. Candelario’s fifth-inning bloop single broke up Peralta’s no-hit bid, but the Brewers immediately turned a double play.
Peralta threw 48 of 71 pitches for strikes. He generated nine swings and misses, three each with his four-seam fastball, slider and curveball.
The Brewers received perfect seventh and eighth innings from Brad Boxberger and Devin Williams, respectively. Boxberger struck out two, while Williams struck out the side — Goodrum, Willi Castro and Reyes — with changeups.
For the Tigers, Peralta posted six scoreless innings.
He allowed two hits and two walks, racking up five strikeouts and firing 53 of 85 pitches for strikes. Peralta worked around trouble in the second and third innings but was otherwise clean. He got six whiffs with his four-seam fastball (two), sinker (one), slider (one) and splitter (two).
“I thought his tempo was much better,” Hinch said. “His delivery was much better. His fastball command was much better. … The energy, everything was picked up a little bit today compared to his last outing, and the effectiveness followed.”
He came out strong in the first inning, tossing nine of 10 pitches for strikes and striking out leadoff hitter Kolten Wong with a nasty splitter. After Avisail Garcia’s leadoff single in the fourth, Peralta retired the final nine batters he faced.
Righty reliever Alex Lange was set to take over for the seventh, but he did not throw a pitch because of the rain.
Once play resumed, Holland pitched a scoreless frame. He also recorded the first out in the eighth inning. Funkhouser picked up the next two outs with ease. Holland threw 9 of 12 pitches for strikes; Funkhouser threw eight of 12 pitches for strikes.
“There was some concern the bullpen didn’t get covered fast enough or maybe (the wind) blew the tarp off of our bullpen,” Hinch said. “There was some instability of more weather, so they didn’t want to restart and then have to stop again. Fortunately for us, it went away from the ballpark, and we were able to play the whole game.”
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.