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Peralta phenomenal as Crew completes sweep

Righty retires 20 in a row, K's 11 over 8 frames
@AdamMcCalvy
April 3, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Freddy Peralta threw 100 pitches over eight scoreless innings in the Brewers’ 1-0 win over the Reds on Wednesday to seal a series sweep. Eighty-four were fastballs. He fired seven straight fastballs at the pinch-hitting Yasiel Puig with two outs and a runner aboard in bottom of the

CINCINNATI -- Freddy Peralta threw 100 pitches over eight scoreless innings in the Brewers’ 1-0 win over the Reds on Wednesday to seal a series sweep. Eighty-four were fastballs. He fired seven straight fastballs at the pinch-hitting Yasiel Puig with two outs and a runner aboard in bottom of the eighth inning, and Puig hit five of them foul. The last three came in a 2-2 count.

It felt, even as it unfolded, like the game’s pivotal at-bat.

“[Puig] scared me right there,” said Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar. “He was just missing really good pitches. He was on time.”

It was Aguilar who scored the game’s only run back in the second inning. He walked, and despite being no threat to run, coaxed a balk from Reds starter Luis Castillo. Manny Pina cashed in with a bouncing single up the middle. Peralta made the lead stand.

Peralta is 22 years old, coming off 14 starts, plus three relief appearances as rookie last year (including an appearance in the National League Championship Series), plus a dud of a 2019 debut against the Cardinals that began with a 39-pitch first inning and didn’t last past the third. As Puig stepped to the plate, Peralta was at 92 pitches and had already struck out 10 Reds, three shy of his personal best from a dazzling Major League debut last Mother’s Day. Reds catcher Curt Casali had just singled to snap a streak of 20 straight batters retired.

It was no secret to anyone that Peralta was seeking strikeout No. 11.

“I really wanted it,” Peralta said through Brewers’ translator Carlos Brizuela.

Here’s how the at-bat unfolded:

Pitch 1: Fastball off the plate low and away. Ball 1.

Pitch 2: Fastball on the outside corner, fouled away.

Pitch 3: Fastball middle-in for a foul ball. Puig grimaced. He’d missed his pitch.

Pitch 4: Fastball up and away off the plate. The count was 2-2.

Pitch 5: Fastball low and away at 95.5 mph. Peralta was gaining velocity with each pitch. Puig fouled it off. He licked his bat. The catcher, Pina, went out for a visit.

“He came into the game swinging,” Pina said. “I knew it. We attacked him away, away. But he was on time with the fastball. I mean, he just missed [it by] a little bit.

“So I went out and talked to Freddy, like, ‘I want a fastball, but up and in. I don’t want any extension of his arms.’ He didn’t want that. He wanted down and away.”

Pina returned to his crouch.

Pitch 6: Fastball down the middle at 96.1 mph, Peralta’s firmest pitch of the at-bat. Puig fouled it straight back. He kissed his bat.

Pitch 7: Fastball up and away, Peralta’s 99th pitch. Puig fouled it back again. He stretched out both arms like an airplane before returning to the batter’s box. Peralta came set, looked for a sign from Pina, and shook it off. That meant another mound visit.

“I want a fastball up and in,” Pina said again. “He didn’t want that. I said, ‘OK, so give me a good curveball in the dirt. No fastball, a good curveball.’ And we figured it out.”

Pitch 8: Curveball in the dirt in front of home plate. Puig, way out in front, fanned. Pina tagged him out to end the inning.

“That’s when you have to dig deep,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “It was the execution, which [Peralta] did all day. And it was a great call by Manny.”

Said Aguilar: “That was great. I think that won the game.”

The Brewers still had an inning to go. With Josh Hader unavailable after saving the first two games of the series, and four of the Brewers’ first six games, Alex Wilson took the ninth inning. He walked the leadoff man and surrendered a two-out single to Matt Kemp, before inducing a game-ending grounder to Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia, who’d neglected to hustle out a ground ball in the fifth inning, costing him a chance to reach base on an 0-for-3 afternoon. Arcia made a nice play in the hole and fired a throw to second base. It was the first ground ball out for the Reds all day.

It marked the 23rd 1-0 game in 17 seasons at Great American Ball Park, but just another day for the Brewers. Seven games into their season, they are already 5-0 in one-run games.

“You give Peralta credit right there, he pitched a really good game,” said Cincinnati manager David Bell. “We'll continue to stay after it.”

Peralta’s next outing could be just as fun. He is lined up to work against Mike Trout and the Angels on Tuesday.

“It was a very competitive game from both sides,” said Peralta. “You could feel both pitchers going at it, and [Castillo] did well. You could tell he had a lot of confidence out there, throwing all of his pitches for strikes, and it just made it a good competition. We were going at it.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.