Wily lifts Tigers to 1st win over Texas since '18

Veteran righty tosses seven scoreless in best outing of season

July 6th, 2021

As walked off the mound after the seventh inning, catcher Eric Haase jogged out to meet him with a hug and a grin. Even with two innings to go, it was hard not to celebrate the 32-year-old’s performance.

As Peralta continues to settle into his starting role with Detroit, his successes have risen accordingly. After claiming his first win since 2017 his last time out, Peralta tamed a talented young Rangers squad across seven innings on Monday and his teammates backed him at the plate during a commanding 7-3, series-opening win at Globe Life Field.

“It's good at-bats and good pitching, and some really good defense. ... Obviously, getting into this road trip with a win is always nice, but I liked how we played," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We did a good job of hanging in there with our at-bats, put some pressure on them, took advantage of a mistake they made, [it was an] all-around good win.”

The victory marked Detroit’s first against Texas since July 7, 2018. While the teams didn’t meet in 2020, the Tigers finished 0-6 against the Rangers in ’19, making Monday another step forward during what has been a surprising couple of months for Detroit.

Peralta set the tone early, sitting down the side in order in the first two innings. He stayed aggressive in the zone, a tactic Hinch wagered would be a key to the righty’s success in Arlington. Peralta needed just 48 pitches to navigate the first four frames, the third-lowest number among Detroit starters this season, and he allowed just a pair of singles during that stretch.

Peralta has not allowed a run since June 19, a stretch spanning four outings and 16 consecutive innings.

“I’m very thankful for the organization to give me the opportunity to show what I can do, and I’m 100 percent healthy,” Peralta said. “I’ve felt really good in the last month.”

Hinch had also emphasized the importance of Peralta keeping the ball on the ground and Peralta delivered in that arena, too, racking up 12 groundouts against three flyouts while using a smart mix of his four-seamer, slider and changeup to keep the Rangers guessing.

Peralta was locked in from the beginning: He didn’t walk a batter, and he had just one three-ball count.

Tuesday marked Peralta’s deepest march into a start; he’d tapped out at five innings twice before. The Tigers worked quietly behind him, using a hit-by-pitch, a single and a groundout to score the game’s first run in the fourth inning off starter Kolby Allard.

Allard fought to contain his displeasure when Miguel Cabrera singled to open the sixth. A double and a walk loaded the bases with one out, and Allard couldn’t hide his reaction on the next play, when first baseman Nate Lowe mishandled a grounder from Nomar Mazara, allowing two runs to score.

The knock marked the end of Allard’s day, but Detroit was already moving in to deliver the knockout blow.

In the end, it came from an unlikely source. Willi Castro’s perfectly placed bunt up the first-base line scored Robbie Grossman and brought to the plate. Short, who had struck out in his past six consecutive at-bats, jumped on a curveball from Brett Martin and put it over the wall in center field to push Detroit’s lead to 6-0.

“More insurance runs are always huge, and again, selfishly, it’s just a weight off my shoulders moving forward,” Short said. “You don’t really want to keep riding that [strikeout] train; it gets pretty ugly. In your own mind, we’re all human, we’re thinking about it, but at the same time you try your hardest not to.”

Meanwhile, Peralta continued to dispatch any Rangers’ attempts at momentum, facing the minimum in the fifth and sixth. The lone extra-base hit against him came on a leadoff double in the seventh, but Peralta responded by retiring the next three consecutive Rangers.

After an 8-19 April record to open the year, Detroit strung together a pair of winning months despite being hampered by injuries to three core starters and several key players on the field and in the bullpen.

A large part of that, of course, is due to guys like Peralta stepping up to plug the holes. If he continues to work the way he has lately, it’s hard to imagine the veteran sliding back into a bullpen role.

Peralta wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We are struggling in the sense of finding innings out of our rotation,” Hinch said. “Wily Peralta stepped up and said, ‘Get on my back and I’ll get you deep into games.’ It’s been a welcome, welcome addition.”