Wily Peralta helps Detroit Tigers blank Minnesota Twins, 7-0, to sweep series

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What the Detroit Tigers accomplished in the third inning demonstrated exactly how manager AJ Hinch wants to make opposing teams uncomfortable.

The high-risk, high-reward style of play is the team's formula for winning in 2021.

Jake Rogers opened the frame with a double down the right-field line. He advanced to third base, thanks to Derek Hill's perfectly placed bunt that evolved into an infield single, and scored on Jonathan Schoop's sacrifice fly. With two outs, Hill swiped second base — his sixth steal in 11 games — before Robbie Grossman completed his four-pitch walk. Hill scored from second on Miguel Cabrera's soft single into left field, and Jeimer Candelario punched his 21st double for the team's third run.

Riding momentum from a three-run third inning, the Tigers (43-51) picked up a 7-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday at Comerica Park to sweep the three-game series. Detroit is 34-27 since May 8.

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Detroit Tigers center fielder Derek Hill (54) bunt for a single in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on July 18, 2021.
Detroit Tigers center fielder Derek Hill (54) bunt for a single in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on July 18, 2021.

After losing four in a row to the Twins in Minneapolis to end the first half of the season, the Tigers returned from the All-Star break by taking all three games in Detroit. (A planned fourth game was rained out Friday and will be made up in August.)

On the mound, right-hander Wily Peralta gave the Tigers seven scoreless innings for the second time in three starts. His only blemishes were four hits and four walks. The 32-year-old veteran — before June 19, he hadn't started since 2017 — struck out four batters, worked eight ground outs and fired 49 of 90 pitches for strikes.

In his past five starts, Peralta owns a 0.34 ERA with eight walks and 17 strikeouts over 26⅔ innings. He has given up just one earned run during this span and holds a season-long 1.64 ERA across seven games (six starts).

Relievers Buck Farmer and Alex Lange posted scoreless eighth and ninth innings.

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Peralta settles in

The Twins made Peralta work through the first three innings. Although Peralta only threw 14 pitches in the first inning, 14 in the second and 11 in the third, the his opponents hit the ball hard to all parts of the field. He worked out of jams in all three frames, with help from Candelario's sharp defense at third base.

By the third inning, Peralta got comfortable with his changeup.

That's when everything changed.

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Detroit Tigers starter Wily Peralta pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 18, 2021, in Detroit.
Detroit Tigers starter Wily Peralta pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, July 18, 2021, in Detroit.

In the fourth, Peralta struck out Alex Kirilloff with his changeup for the first out. He walked Jorge Polanco, who was thrown out trying to steal second base on a strong throw from Rogers to shortstop Zack Short. Before Rogers' throw, Max Kepler struck out swinging at fastball — giving Peralta two outs with one pitch to end the inning.

He retired all three batters in the fifth inning, inducing two ground-ball outs. (He only had two ground outs through the first three innings.) Despite a four-pitch walk to Josh Donaldson in the sixth, the Tigers turned a 5-6-3 double play for two outs. The next batter, Nelson Cruz, grounded out to third base on Peralta's first-pitch slider.

Peralta needed just nine pitches to complete the seventh inning. Candelario started an inning-ending double play, which was the fourth with Peralta on the mound. Candelario was involved in three of the four double plays.

Schoop, Candelario smack homers

The Tigers added two runs in the fifth inning with Schoop's two-run homer for a 5-0 lead. He crushed a fastball from Twins starter J.A. Happ, and the pitch traveled 418 feet to left field. Two innings later, Candelario belted a 419-foot two-run blast to left field.

Candelario's homer, which came on a changeup from Happ, gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.

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Luis Arraez #2 of the Minnesota Twins is out at third as Jeimer Candelario #46 of the Detroit Tigers throws to Jonathan Schoop #7 of the Detroit Tigers at first during the top of the third inning at Comerica Park on July 18, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.
Luis Arraez #2 of the Minnesota Twins is out at third as Jeimer Candelario #46 of the Detroit Tigers throws to Jonathan Schoop #7 of the Detroit Tigers at first during the top of the third inning at Comerica Park on July 18, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.

The long balls were Schoop's 17th (in 90 games) and Candelario's sixth (in 84 games) this season. The pair of two-run homers were set up by Baddoo's single in the fifth and Schoop's single in the seventh. Happ allowed seven runs on 11 hits and one walk across seven innings.

The Tigers got multi-hit performances from Baddoo, Schoop, Candelario and Hill. Schoop and Candelario each produced three RBIs.

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Cabrera continues climb

With Cabrera's single in the third inning, the 38-year-old reached 2,929 hits in his 19-year MLB career, tying Al Simmons for 40th place on the all-time hits list. He is one hit away from meeting Jake Beckley and Rogers Hornsby at No. 38 on the leaderboard.

Cabrera remains six home runs away from No. 500.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers blank Minnesota Twins, 7-0, to sweep series