Over his previous five starts, Wily Peralta enjoyed his best stretch of the season having allowed one run in 26 2/3 innings in that span.
But in Friday night’s series opener against the Royals, the 32-year-old’s success came to a halt in the Tigers’ 5-3 loss at Kauffman Stadium.
Peralta lasted 5 2/3 innings and tied a season high by yielding five runs to his former club as Detroit fell to 7-1 since the All-Star break.
“Pretty much every time that I fall behind, I [try to] just make a quality pitch,” Peralta said. “Today, I just left [them] right down the middle pretty much. They're all good hitters. You cannot pitch behind every time.”
Peralta surrendered a run in the third inning on a two-out RBI single from Whit Merrifield, and his struggles continued from then on. He gave up a three-run homer to Ryan O’Hearn in the fourth inning after a single and a walk. An inning later, Peralta surrendered a two-out solo home run to Carlos Santana on a changeup that he left in the middle of the zone.
After setting down the Royals in order on 19 pitches in his first two innings and working with an early lead on Willi Castro's homer in the top of the third, Peralta said he lost his command during the at-bat against O’Hearn -- falling behind 2-0 in the count.
“I fell behind on O'Hearn and left a fastball middle-up, and he put a good swing on it,” Peralta said. “I wasn't in command. After that second or third inning, I just fell behind a couple of hitters and I got played.”
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said the Royals took advantage of tough situations that Peralta found himself in. Some of which included walks that preceded both of Merrifield and O’Hearn’s run-scoring hits.
“Against Wily, they got a walk and then did something important afterwards,” Hinch said. “Whether that was a two-out [hit] with Merrifield or the homer. They capitalized on any time that he was in trouble after the walk, so they did a good job of playing the game and scored more runs than we did even though we outhit them [8-5].”
Peralta’s struggles to hold runners on base differed from opposing starter Kris Bubic’s success in keeping the Tigers off the board.
Detroit hitters went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and grounded into three double plays against Bubic.
Zach Short grounded into two of those double plays that ended the fourth and sixth innings, and left Detroit scoreless in both frames.
“We didn't get the big hit,” Hinch said. “It's not frustrating. It's the big leagues and those guys did a great job of executing tough plays. Quick turns by Merrifield. [Carlos] Santana did his part at first base and they got out of some really big innings. It's not that frustrating because it's a tough sport, but obviously it's a difference in the game.”