MILWAUKEE — Slowly but surely Sunday, Wily Peralta’s outing was wrecked by singles. As a result, the rookie right-hander had another hiccup in a season filled with a mix of really good outings and really bad outings.
Cincinnati tagged Peralta for eight hits — all singles — and seven earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. The Reds used a five-run second inning and a five-run fifth inning to ease to a 9-1 victory and split the four-game series with the Brewers.
“Today was a tough day,” Peralta said. “They were aggressive and they swung early. I don’t think I gave up too many extra-base hits, they just were ground balls that found a hole. That kind of thing happened to me earlier (in the season).
“If I had a better command with the fastball today, those things wouldn’t happen. But I didn’t have that much command of my pitches.”
Peralta entered Sunday’s start with a 2.97 ERA in his last 14 starts and was fresh off going toe-to-toe in a complete-game loss against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. It was clear from the beginning Sunday that Peralta just didn’t have it.
He got a double play ball to work out of a first-inning jam, but had no such luck in the second inning. Three straight singles loaded the bases with nobody out and Ryan Hanigan put Cincinnati up 2-0 with a single to left. A passed ball scored another run, and Brandon Phillips made it 5-0 with a two-out, two-run single.
It was a far cry from the last time Peralta faced Cincinnati at home. That night, he was in complete control of all of his pitches and threw a three-hit shutout. He entered Sunday with a scoreless streak of 10 innings against the Reds and had allowed just seven earned runs in four career starts against Cincinnati.
“He’s pitched well lately,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He’s pitched well against this club lately. You just don’t expect that, for him to come out and struggle like that but it’s going to happen for a young pitcher.”
These were the type of starts Peralta was struggling through in April and May. Singles and walks would seem endless in one inning, while Peralta would then breeze through the next few innings.
“This kind of game has killed me this year,” Peralta said. “A lot of ground balls just get through on the ground. Just keep the ball on the ground and if they hit it right at people you can probably get a double play and get out of the inning. Those kind of days are going to happen. They are going to find a hole and get a base hit.
The difference in “good” Peralta and “bad” Peralta lies with his command. When on, he can shut out a team like Cincinnati, but will get hit around when command is off. His power sinker wasn’t moving much Sunday and his secondary pitches aren’t developed enough to overcome struggles with his main pitch.
Roenicke and the Brewers have been patient with the young right-hander this season, and rightfully so. He’s shown talent, but bumps in the road like the one he endured Sunday are going to come.
“It’s frustrating because I feel for him and what he’s trying to do,” Roenicke said. “He’ll go on a good run and have a couple, two or three good starts and just when you think he’s going to take off and do that every time, he doesn’t. It’s more how we need to figure out how to work with the mental side of it. If he gets out of whack physically, what we need to do, so we don’t have these types of games.
“I know almost every single young pitcher that comes to the big leagues goes through this stuff. All the good ones, if you look back at what they did, they scuffled. Somewhere in their career, they scuffled, usually in their first or second year.”