MILWAUKEE — Coming off an outing where he left in the sixth inning with a strained left hamstring and having had his start pushed back two days, few could have foreseen starter Wily Peralta going seven innings strong.
Going the distance and pitching a shutout? That wasn’t even in the same zip code.
The Brewers had gone an MLB-record 407 games without a complete game, with Yovani Gallardo last going the distance on April 5, 2011, against Atlanta.
Yet there was Peralta, coming out to a standing ovation in the top of the ninth with “There Goes my Hero” aptly playing over the loudspeakers. He had only thrown 92 pitches and had shown tremendous command, not walking a player since the fourth inning.
After walking Joey Votto with two outs in the ninth, Peralta induced a groundball to seal a gem of an outing. He set a career high in innings pitched, going the full nine innings, and matched his career high by striking out six batters to go along with four walks and only three hits allowed to move to 6-9 on the season with the 2-0 win over Cincinnati.
The longest complete-game drought in MLB history was officially over.
“That was really nice to see,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “Wily had outstanding command today down in the zone with a really good sinker. I really thought he got the slider working well as the game went on. Quite a ballgame.”
Peralta said he has been feeling good about his stuff the past two starts and didn’t feel any fatigue going into the ninth inning.
“It’s a great feeling when you go back out there and you have your adrenaline going,” Peralta said. “I was excited that was my first time throwing into the ninth inning.
“For me, (throwing a complete game) is a blessing. I’ve been thinking about when it’s going to come, and to have it be a shutout, that’s a blessing.”
The hamstring that had pushed his start back two days was a complete non-issue according to Roenicke.
“He would have been fine after two days but we really wanted to make sure, so giving him two more days we all felt really good about it. I didn’t even ask about it before the game.”
One of the clearest signs Peralta was on his game was the speed with which he was working on the mound.
“He’s working quicker,” Roenicke said. “If you watched him today, as soon as he threw the ball he was back up on the hill ready to go again. That shows a lot of confidence in what you’re doing.
“I think pace becomes an issue for a lot of guys when you’re not playing well. You walk around the mound, you’re overthinking.”
Roenicke wasn’t the only one to notice Peralta’s quick pace. Logan Schafer, a late addition to the lineup after Norichika Aoki was scratched only an hour prior to game time due to a tight left elbow, commented on Peralta’s fast delivery.
“It was really fun to play defense behind him today. He got back up on that rubber much quicker tonight,” Schafer noted. “His stuff was so good and he trusted himself so much, it was really fun to see and play behind him.”
Schafer was overshadowed a bit by the complete game, but his two-run home run in the fifth inning proved to be the difference in the game as they were the only two runs scored all night. A game-winning homer was made even more special as it was Schafer’s first of his career.
“It was pretty nice. Hearing the fans chanting my name coming back to right field will be something I’ll always remember,” Schafer said. “It was really nice to get some runs on the board.”
As for Peralta, the next step will be to carry the momentum from Tuesday night into his next start.
“Any time you had a game like that, the next game can be a little more difficult,” Roenicke said. “But in the long run, having a game like that can carry him a long way. The reason I say the next start is he threw 112 pitches today and he was getting after it. I saw 96 (mph) in the last inning, so I’m hoping he bounces back well physically. If he does, mentally he should be really good.”