The Detroit Tigers had been humming along before their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins this weekend, having won or split the past five series since mid-June. That all came to a crashing end after a 5-3 loss on Thursday, a 4-2 defeat on Friday and another L on Saturday, this time by a score of 9-4 to the boys from the Twin Cities.
On Sunday, the good guys have a chance to prevent a back-breaking four-game sweep at the hands of their American League Central Division rivals as well as notch one in the win column before the All-Star break. For Detroit, a veteran pitcher who has found his way onto the roster due to a rash of injuries will take the bump while Minnesota sends one of their best to the hill. Here is a look at how the two match up.
Detroit Tigers (40-50) at Minnesota Twins (38-50)
Time/Place: 2:10 p.m., Target Field
SB Nation site: Twinkie Town
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Wily Peralta (2-1, 2.14 ERA) vs. RHP José Berríos (7-3, 3.36 ERA)
Game 91 Pitching Matchup
Wily Peralta has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for the Tigers this season after reclaiming him off the trash heap in free agency on a minor league deal. He has made the best of his opportunities so far in 2021, appearing once in relief to earn a hold while starting four games in which he held his opponents to zero earned runs in three of them. His lone blemish came on June 19 against the Los Angeles Angels in his first start since May 14 of 2017, in which he surrendered five runs over five innings on seven hits, two walks and a pair of dingers while striking out two over 87 pitches. Otherwise, he has been nearly lights-out for Detroit.
Over the three games in which he shut down his opponents since he has simply gotten better and better. He only lasted 2 2⁄3 frames against the Houston Astros on June 26, walking two while holding the ‘Stros scoreless and hitless; in his second start, he lasted five innings while allowing a lone unearned run on three hits while striking out five and hitting a batter. His most recent start was a gem, going for a season-high in innings (seven) and pitches (91) allowing three hits and striking out six; he earned a win in both of his last two outings while also preventing a single base-on-balls.
On the mound opposite of Peralta is a pitcher who has not been shabby himself, either. Minnesota’s José Berríos is enjoying yet another solid season as the ace of the staff. Having already tossed over 100 innings, the 27-year-old appears to be en route to the second 200-inning season of his six-year career. And not only has he been a workhorse, but he has also been very effective at keeping runners off base, sporting a career-low 1.10 WHIP while also doing a fair job suppressing home runs.
The veteran right-hander has faced the Tigers once already this season, throwing six innings of two-run ball on May 8 allowing six hits and five walks along with a home run and a HPB over 104 pitches for a no-decision in the losing effort. One thing that can be said for Berríos is that he will give up some runs no matter how well he is pitching — his only scoreless outing came in his season debut against the Milwaukee Brewers in which he struck out 12 batters over six frames on 84 pitches.
Key Matchup: Offense vs. Berríos
Continuing on that last point, despite his solid traditional and peripheral numbers Berríos is prone to coughing up some runs — just a matter of how many. It would not be terribly surprising if Peralta continues his recent trend and shuts down the Twinkies, in which case plating a few Tigers could go a long way in securing a win. It might not even require a heavy-lumber effort on the part of the Olde English D but why not play it safe and slug away?