Wily Peralta never looked comfortable on the mound Saturday. As a result, a glance at the wild-card standings now inspires similar anxiety among Brewers faithful.
Peralta picked a bad time for an uncharacteristically bad outing. The Brewers rookie had a rough showing from the get-go in Milwaukee’s 10-4 setback to Washington.
The 23-year-old nervously scraped the mound with his left foot after pitches. His usually dominant stuff was largely ineffective — especially his slider. And his command was anything but consistent.
Due in part to Peralta’s shakiness, the Brewers saw a season-high six-game winning streak snapped.
Afterward, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke noted that Peralta simply “couldn’t get comfortable. He just couldn’t find it. He just never got in that good rhythm.”
Peralta, who entered the day 2-0 with a tidy 2.14 ERA, lasted just 2 2/3 innings against the Nationals, yielding five hits, three earned runs and four walks in 73 pitches.
Saturday’s fourth inning served as the rookie pitcher’s undoing. First, he yielded an RBI double to left field by Bryce Harper. Soon after, Washington’s Adam LaRoche roped another RBI double, down the right-field line. By inning’s end the Nationals led, 3-0.
The host’s lead eventually swelled to 9-0 after veteran innings-eater Livan Hernandez yielded a pair of three-run homers to the 92-59 Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond.
When you’re facing a Cy Young-caliber pitcher like Gio Gonzalez — as the Brewers were on this day — an early deficit can quickly spell doom.
Said Roenicke: “You get down that much in the beginning and it’s gonna be a long day, which it was.”
Thus, Milwaukee (78-73) was reduced to scoreboard-watching by day’s end, hoping competitors for the National League’s final wild-card spot, like St. Louis, would lose. Alas, the Cardinals (81-71) evaded the Chicago Cubs, 5-4, to move to 2.5 games ahead of the Brewers in the playoff race.
Now, with just 11 games remaining on their regular-season schedule, the Brewers can’t afford any more shaky performances like Peralta had Saturday. Fortunately for Milwaukee, it’ll turn to its ace, Yovani Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA), for Sunday’s matinee in the nation’s capital.
“(Sunday) and the next day are certainly going to be big games,” Roenicke acknowledged. “We can’t afford to (struggle) again.”