A well-rested Tigers team faced off against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night for the first of a two-game short series, and with some thunderstorms interrupting the proceedings, a pitcher’s duel produced a 1-0 Tigers victory in 11 innings; a walk-off single from Derek Hill earning the Tigers a victory.
Wily Peralta faced Freddy Peralta, and according to our research, the two are not related. Wily, coming off a pair of good-but-not-great four-inning starts against the A’s and Pirates, had his splitter going in the first inning, striking out Kolten Wong to start the game.
Freddy Peralta has been sensational this year, with a 2.69 ERA and a 0.976 WHIP in 24 starts and a relief outing. He had 172 strikeouts in 127 innings coming into tonight, against 54 walks, for a K/BB ratio a bit above 3. His delivery at times drops down to a low three-quarters angle, which provides the illusion of a “rising” fastball. (It’s just that, though: an illusion.)
Freddy P. is on a tight innings limit, though: one, he only pitched 29 innings last year, and two, the Brewers have all but salted-away the division title, so they’re already thinking about October in terms of their pitching staff. Before tonight’s tilt, his previous outings have only been 2 and 3 2⁄3 innings.
Wily P. played with fire a bit in the second: after a one-out walk and a two-out single, Daniel Vogelbach was at the plate with a chance to put Milwaukee up early. But, Vogelbach lined out to center and that was that.
Jeimer Candelario got on base with one out in the second the hard way, getting plunked by F. Peralta on the right hand. He was okay, and was on first base with two outs when Niko Goodrum smashed a line drive to right-center, but Avisail Garcia made a fine running catch right where the wall juts out to end the inning.
The tops of the second, third and fourth innings all ended with lineouts to outfielders with at least one runner on base. That Wily Peralta, man, he’ll wiggle out of pretty much everything. Through five innings, “our” Peralta was sitting at the 72-pitch mark after having his first 1-2-3 inning since the first.
The first Tiger hit was Candelario’s bloop single to left to lead off the fifth... and he was erased in a 5-4-3 double play grounder from Eric Haase. Goodrum struck out, and the contest remained deadlocked at goose-eggs.
Wily Peralta was rolling pretty nicely: his strikeout of Garcia to end the fifth represented his ninth straight batter retired. I’ll take it.
No slouch himself, Freddy Peralta mixed up a curveball, slider, not-entirely-sinking fastball, and a few changeups for good measure. He went far deeper in this game than his previous two, primarily due to his exceptionally low pitch count: only 51 after five innings.
Willi Castro singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth. After Victor Reyes and Akil Baddoo struck out, Jonathan Schoop got hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. Robbie Grossman followed and worked the count to 3-0... but popped out to shortstop as the sad trombones played.
Just before the sixth started, thunderstorms were imminent in downtown Detroit — you can only dodge the bullet for so long — and the tarps came out. You can see why, right here.
C-Mo had the right idea.
It’s a shame about (the) rain — it would’ve been nice to have seen if Wily Peralta could possibly go for a seventh inning. Nonetheless, his final line was superb:
Wily Peralta had himself a night. pic.twitter.com/TIPsWkfRqG— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 15, 2021
Derek Holland took over for W. Peralta after the delay and he gave up a shift-breaking bloop pop-up on the first pitch to Omar Navaez. But, two pitches later Holland induced a double-play ground ball out of Luis Arias; Jace Peterson then struck out, and the game remained scoreless. Coming into tonight, in five September outings, Holland had yet to be scored-upon.
Brad Boxberger similarly relieved F. Peralta, and he struck out Miguel Cabrera on a couple of questionable called strikes. Here’s one:
Nope. Wrong. (This wasn’t even the only blown strike call against Cabrera tonight. Not a great strike zone.)
Holland carried through to the eighth and got the first out, giving way to Kyle Funkhouser. Groundout, flyout, Gatorade and seeds (probably).
Devin Williams pitched the bottom of the eighth. Since the National League is like this weird parallel baseball universe to me, I don’t really get a lot of news about it. But, this Williams fellow, last year — small sample size, I know — pitched 27 innings and gave up one earned run. One! On a solo home run to the Pirates’ Colin Moran. His ERA is a couple of ticks higher this year (2.65 in 51 innings), but he struck out 80 coming into tonight... and he’s given up earned runs in one appearance since late June. Struck out the side, natch — on three changeups.
Gregory Soto took the mound in the ninth, the game still scoreless, and went 1-2-3, only needing nine pitches.
Josh Hader, of the 1.42 ERA, 15.3 K/9 innings and the 0.809 WHIP, pitched the ninth. However... with one out, he walked the bases loaded (Schoop, Grossman and Cabrera) as he appeared to forget how to throw strikes. He recovered to strike Candelario out on a nasty slider, then did the same with Haase, sending a scoreless game to extra innings. But, since Hader had thrown 32 (!) pitches in the ninth, it was unlikely that he’d continue to the tenth.
Soto carried on to the tenth, the fourth such time he’s been asked to do that after pitching the ninth in the past three weeks. With Jackie Bradley Jr. on second base to start the tenth, pinch-hitter Manny Piña walked. Luis Urias struck out, and Peterson hit a soft grounder for a forceout at second, leaving runners at the corners with two outs. Soto got a little wild against another pinch-hitter, Pablo Reyes, but struck him out looking, crucially not allowing the ghost runner to score.
Rookie Jake Cousins pitched the tenth for the Brewers (25 innings, 1.40 ERA, 13.3 K/9... where do they keep finding these guys?!), and Haase started on second. Goodrum struck out on a foul bunt — not quite sure I agree with that, but Goodrum does strike out a lot — but a Harold Castro groundout advanced Haase to third. Wong made a great play on a high chopper to retire Reyes, and on to the eleventh we went.
P. Reyes started the eleventh on second base, and Brayan Garcia took the mound. Garcia’s had a rough year, both in Detroit and Toledo, so this would be a crucial outing for him and the Tigers to show what he’s got.
Garcia got hosed on a 2-2 call to Lorenzo Cain which would’ve been a great called strike three, but Cain eventually beat out an infield single to put runners on the corners with none out. Wong hit a short fly ball to right, and while Reyes didn’t score, Cain advanced to second as Reyes’ throw was allowed to go all the way through to the plate; not sure I’ve ever seen that before. Escobar walked on four pitches to load the bases with one out, bringing Christian Yelich to the plate; he’s not the hitter he was a couple of years ago, but he’s still dangerous. Yelich hit a grounder to second; Harold Castro’s slow flip to second meant Goodrum had to really gun it to first to get the third out and preserve the shutout.
Hunter Strickland — another in a parade of great Milwaukee relievers — started the 11th, with V. Reyes on second. Derek Hill, who’d pinch-hit for Baddoo in the ninth, punched a ground ball through to center (after fouling off a bunt to make it an 0-2 count), and Reyes rounded third to score the winning run.
Tigers win! Eventually!
The second game of the two-game series is scheduled to start at 1:10 pm EDT on Wednesday.
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Notes and Numbers
- Jeimer “Mr. Doubles” Candelario, between July 4 and Sunday’s game, hit .294 in those 61 games. That’s pretty nice, of course, but in those games he hit 24 doubles. With a little rounding, that’s a 64-doubles pace over a 162-game season.
- Mr. Doubles is also the only major- or minor-leaguer ever to have the name “Jeimer.”
- The Brewers’ Jackie Bradley Jr. is having himself a pretty lousy season: over 400 plate appearances, with a slash line of .165/.239/.270 for a .509 OPS. That’s a decent-hitting pitcher, frankly.
- Am I the only one to think about Dan Fogelberg when someone mentions Daniel Vogelbach?
- Let’s take a moment to honour the memory of Norm Macdonald. He wasn’t everyone’s thing in terms of comedy, but he was definitely mine. If you’ve never seen the masterpiece called The Moth Joke, it’s worth your time.