Wily Peralta inefficient, offense weak in Detroit Tigers' 2-1 loss to Kansas City Royals

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Detroit Tigers veteran Wily Peralta wasn't sharp in Sunday's series finale against the Kansas City Royals.

The 32-year-old needed 29 pitches in the first inning, 18 in the second, 21 in the third, 19 in the fourth and, finally, 13 just to get two outs in the fifth frame. As Peralta labored on the mound, his opponent — left-hander Kris Bubic — dealt seven scoreless innings.

Peralta limited the damage to two runs on eight hits and three walks, but the Royals didn't need much run support. They scored in the first and fourth innings, enough to give the Tigers a 2-1 loss in their final matchup with the Royals this season.

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Tigers second baseman Isaac Paredes forces Royals third baseman Adalberto Mondesi out at second base and throws to first base during the fifth inning on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at Comerica Park.
Tigers second baseman Isaac Paredes forces Royals third baseman Adalberto Mondesi out at second base and throws to first base during the fifth inning on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at Comerica Park.

The Tigers (75-80) didn't apply much pressure to the Royals, finishing 5-for-31 with three walks, one hit-by-pitch and nine strikeouts. (Niko Goodrum also reached safely on a fielding error from first baseman Carlos Santana in the second inning.)

But the Tigers left runners in scoring position in the second and fourth. In the second, Daz Cameron struck out swinging. In the fourth, Goodrum grounded out to shortstop.

Bubic allowed just two hits and one walk in his seven innings.

Still, the Tigers eventually scored in the bottom of the ninth.

Miguel Cabrera picked up an infield single, giving him 2,984 hits across his 19-year MLB career. The Tigers advanced Zack Short — Cabrera's pinch-runner — to second base on Eric Haase's full-count walk, and Isaac Paredes followed with a ground-rule double.

Cutting Kansas City's lead to 2-1, the Tigers had two runners in scoring position with one out. Goodrum then struck out swinging, pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman drew an intentional walk and, to end the game, pinch-hitter Harold Castro struck out swinging.

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Bubic threw 63 of 95 pitches for strikes and implemented a fastball-heavy approach: 65 four-seam fastballs (68%), 15 curveballs (16%) and 15 changeups (16%). To go with 10 swings and misses, Bubic benefitted from weak contact.

The Tigers averaged an 82.7 mph exit velocity against Bubic.

In the top of the ninth inning, Willi Castro robbed Whit Merrifield of a solo home run in left field. It was Castro's eighth outfield appearance of his career. This season, he has started 79 games at second base, 19 games at shortstop, eight in left field and five as the designated hitter.

Merrifield finished 3-for-5 with two doubles.

Peralta struggles but grinds

The Royals opened the scoring early, ending the Peralta's scoreless streak at 16 innings. He recently achieved the mark with six innings against the Milwaukee Brewers and seven innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, as well as three of his four innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kansas City put an end to his run behind Merrifield's double and Nicky Lopez's single to jumpstart the first inning.

Although slugger Salvador Perez struck out swinging, Kansas City capitalized on their first two at-bats with Andrew Benintendi's RBI single to right field for a 1-0 lead. Peralta continued his struggles by walking Carlos Santana to load the bases with one out.

This time, Peralta worked out of the jam. Adalberto Mondesi grounded into a force out, before Hunter Dozier struck out swinging at one of Peralta's best splitters. (Earlier in the first, he struck out Perez with his slider.)

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Tigers pitcher Wily Peralta, left, throws to Royals designated hitter Salvador Perez in the first inning on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at Comerica Park.
Tigers pitcher Wily Peralta, left, throws to Royals designated hitter Salvador Perez in the first inning on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at Comerica Park.

Peralta also worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, but he gave up his second run in the fourth on Nicky Lopez's sacrifice fly. The opportunity for Lopez was set up by Cam Gallagher's double and Merrifield's single.

To complete the fourth, Peralta retired Perez and Benintendi.

Upon returning to the dugout, it wasn't clear if Tigers manager AJ Hinch would send Peralta back to the mound for the fifth inning, considering left-handed reliever Derek Holland had been warming up in the bullpen.

But Peralta trotted back out for the fifth. He recorded two outs — working around a walk from Adalberto Mondesi — before turning the ball over to Holland. Facing left-handed hitter Kyle Isbel, Holland's fifth pitch produced the third out.

His catcher, Haase, received the curveball and threw out Hunter Dozier trying to steal second base.

Peralta threw 59 of 100 pitches for strikes, using 30 four-seam fastballs, 26 splitters, 23 sliders and 21 sinkers. He produced nine swings and misses, doing so with his four-seamer (one), splitter (three), slider (four) and sinker (one).

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: Wily Peralta inefficient, offense weak in Detroit Tigers' 2-1 loss