Wily Peralta has had better starts for the Milwaukee Brewers than he had Monday night at Chase Field in Phoenix.
We’re talking about a guy who threw a three-hit shutout at the Cincinnati Reds last July, a guy who shut down those same Reds for eight scoreless innings at the bandbox known as Great American Ballpark on May 2.
But Peralta might not have had a more important start than Monday.
Peralta has had a tendency early in his career to be very, very good … right up until the point things start to go sideways.
Then things can go from bad to “Oh, God, oh, God, we’re all going to die” very rapidly.
Such was the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday night.
No worries? Big worries.
The bottom of the Arizona batting order worked Peralta over for four straight hits—including the cardinal sin, a two-run single by his opposite number, Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy, and that 2-0 lead was rapidly a 3-2 deficit.
It’s the type of situation where Peralta has melted down in the past.
But the 25-year-old Dominican showed his improved maturity and his competitive mettle. Through two innings, Peralta’s line was a messy three runs on seven hits with one strikeout.
He shut out Arizona on two hits the rest of the way, working seven innings and leaving with the score knotted at 3-3, thanks to Scooter Gennett’s homer leading off the third inning.
His final line—seven innings, three runs on nine hits with six strikeouts—isn’t terribly impressive. His game score—a formula devised by sabermetrics pioneer Bill James—was just 53, ranking in the bottom half of his 14 starts this season.
But it was how he bounced back. After needing 38 pitches to get through just two innings, Peralta used just 65 more to record his final 15 outs of the night.
And he wound up getting the win when the Arizona bullpen imploded with two outs and no one on in the eighth inning.
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson had brought in left-hander Joe Thatcher to face pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay. Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke countered by burning Overbay in favor of the righty-swinging Rickie Weeks.
Weeks struck out, Thatcher got lefty-swinging Gennett to pop out to short left field and, with slugger Ryan Braun due up, Gibson played the percentage and took the ball from Thatcher in favor of right-hander Will Harris.
Man, did Gibby read that wrong.
Harris nearly airmailed his first pitch over the head of catcher Miguel Montero and walked Braun on four pitches, none of which was terribly well acquainted with the area code of the strike zone.
J.J. Putz came on in the ninth and surrendered three more runs—Gennett chipped in an RBI single and Braun tripled home a pair of runs, and Milwaukee had a 9-3 laugher.
But it all started because Wily Peralta straightened himself out after a rough stretch, something he hasn’t always shown he was capable of doing.
It’s certainly a positive sign going forward, particularly if the Milwaukee rotation will continue to include Marco Estrada, who is giving up home runs at roughly the same rate Dairy Queen hands out soft-serve ice cream.
It’s a sign of a kid who is looking ready to contribute for a team that’s heading toward a meaningful second half of the season.