Peralta rebounds from rough stretch, but loses pitchers' duel

May 23rd, 2024

MIAMI -- The month of May has been tough for . Entering his 10th start of the season on Wednesday at loanDepot park, the Brewers’ Opening Day starter had allowed 11 earned runs over 16 innings in three May outings (6.19 ERA).

Against the Marlins, though, it was “vintage Freddy.”

The righty allowed just one run on four hits over seven innings, effectively shutting down a Marlins offense that has been rebounding over the past week. On any other day, that would have been enough for a win.

But while Peralta was shoving, so was Miami’s Jesús Luzardo. The pair delivered a classic pitchers’ duel that ended with the Marlins on top, 1-0, with Peralta’s one run allowed being a leadoff homer to Jazz Chisholm Jr. on the fifth pitch he threw.

“Freddy was magnificent,” manager Pat Murphy said. “[When] you give up one run in eight innings -- or in eight innings of pitching [as a team] -- you plan on winning the game. Their kid deserves a lot of credit. Man, that kid was great.”

Part of what worked so well for Peralta was his pitch mix. Pregame, Murphy emphasized that he wanted to see his ace use his fastball more -- and more effectively. The numbers won’t show that he used it more than his last start (five runs allowed over five innings vs. the Astros on Friday), but both Murphy and Peralta acknowledged that Wednesday’s outing saw a fastball that was vastly more productive.

“I thought, ‘It's fastball Freddy,’” Murphy said. “It all plays off the fastball. He has to establish that. He can't throw five, six in a row and then throw one down the middle. But [if] he can use his fastball effectively and [is able] to locate it in the top half of the zone, it's really tough to hit. And then everything else works off of that. But he was magnificent.”

“No, even when I got the homer -- I knew that I gave up a homer because I was behind in the count; I started with 2-0,” Peralta said. “But other than that, I was feeling great. … You never know what's gonna happen in a game, but I knew that I was feeling great for tonight. So I didn't pay a lot of attention to [the homer]. I just moved forward.”

Moving forward certainly paid off. Major Leaguers often discuss the necessity of “flushing” the losses. They learn from them, but they’re quick to carry on.

So Peralta learned from his outing against the Astros, studied up for his start vs. the Marlins and adjusted. Just look at the first inning: After allowing the homer to Chisholm on a fastball -- his fifth consecutive heater in the at-bat -- Peralta and backstop William Contreras settled in. And they turned up the heat.

Peralta struck out the next two batters he faced, starting a series of 10 consecutive batters retired before he allowed another hit. He struck out seven over his seven innings while getting 13 whiffs.

“[Peralta’s] kind of unique, to where he can run his fastball up to like 96-97 mph, but then he's got some really slow offspeed -- so like, a really slow mid-70s curveball and a slower slider,” Marlins catcher Nick Fortes said. “So it's kind of a big discrepancy in speeds. You've got to be ready for that hard fastball, but then he really slows you down with kind of a big curveball and a slider with a lot of horizontal movement. He's just good. He executes his fastball so he just keeps you off-balance.”

While it was vintage Peralta on the bump for Milwaukee, Luzardo was also lights-out. The Brewers struck out just four times against the southpaw, but they flied out or popped out a combined 15 times. Between the second and the eighth innings, Luzardo retired 17 consecutive batters. The only Brewer to get multiple hits was Gary Sánchez, whose pair of singles bookended those 17 straight batters retired.

“We didn't get on [Luzardo] at all -- he was all over us all night, ahead in the count and he pitched great,” Murphy said. “Sánchez swung the bat great. But other than that, we couldn't really get anything going.

“Credit their guy. He was really, really good. I'm not going to be disappointed in our guys. … Great pitching beats good hitting, that's just the way it is. And that kid was great tonight. Let's give him the credit, [but] we competed and we did what we had to do to hang in there.”