Here's a feel-good Mother's Day story. Freddy Peralta's family in the Dominican Republic had never seen him pitch as a professional when they flew up to Colorado, expecting to see him pitch Saturday night at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Instead, about 35 minutes before Saturday's game, as he was pulling on his uniform pants, Peralta was told he would be starting Sunday -- at Coors Field. Milwaukee Brewers starter Chase Anderson fell ill and the Brewers needed a starter.
Peralta made the trip more than worthwhile with a debut for the ages. With his mom, dad, girlfriend and other family members sitting behind home plate, Peralta took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and ended up with 13 strikeouts over 5⅔ scoreless innings as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-3. That's a Brewers record for a debut and made him just the fifth player to fan at least 13 in his first game:
Karl Spooner, Dodgers, Sept. 22, 1954: 15
J.R. Richard, Astros, Sept. 5, 1971: 15
Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, June 8, 2010: 14
Cliff Melton, Giants, April 25, 1937: 13
(Spooner's name comes up once every few years in this space. He made two late-season starts for Brooklyn in 1954 and struck out 27 batters while spinning two shutouts. He hurt his arm in spring training in 1955, and while he pitched that season, that was it for his career.)
Peralta isn't a big-time prospect, in size or scouting reports. He's a sub-6-foot right-hander, which is automatically one strike against him. His fastball sat 90-93 mph on Sunday, although he did crank it up to 94 and 95 against Nolan Arenado in the fourth inning. While you can always point to the opposing team's lack of familiarity in a rookie's first start, Peralta rarely altered his approach of four-seamers up in the zone -- remarkably, 90 of his 98 pitches were fastballs (the other eight were curveballs).
"When I woke up this morning, I said I can't believe it, but I have to do it because this is real. This is happening right now," Peralta said on MLB Network after the game. He admitted to being nervous, but obviously settled down and just kept following catcher Manny Pina's instructions for fastball after fastball. Twelve of the 13 K's came on fastballs, 11 swinging. All told, he induced 19 misses out of 44 swings.
Peralta didn't make Keith Law's top 10 Brewers prospects and was 12th on Baseball America's list, but this guy has always produced in the minors. The Brewers got him from the Mariners in December 2015 for Adam Lind, one of David Stearns' first moves as general manager. Peralta was just a teenager then who had a good strikeout-to-walk ratio in the Arizona Rookie League, but he fanned 169 in 120 innings in the minors in 2017 and 46 in 34⅔ innings at Colorado Springs, where he outperformed the higher-rated Corbin Burnes.
At this point, Peralta is a name to watch. He's not going to succeed long-term throwing 90 percent fastballs, but for a Brewers team that has played well and will need rotation help at some point, maybe Peralta proves to be a surprise solution.
Prior to today, Freddy Peralta's family had never seen him pitch professionally. Safe to say that they'll be catching more games going forward. And, of course, Mom gets the 13th strikeout ball. #MothersDay #MILatCOL pic.twitter.com/6ci7ixxWkS— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 13, 2018
Markus Lynn Betts is incredible: Mookie Betts had two more hits on Sunday and is now hitting .366 and slugging .772. He is on pace for a ridiculous 170 runs and 118 extra-base hits in 146 games. Oh, and he's making plays like this one:
.@mookiebetts hogging all the hits for himself, SMH. pic.twitter.com/5wwWbv2hZx— MLB (@MLB) May 13, 2018
According to Statcast, Betts covered 88 feet on the play, which had a 17 percent catch probability. The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 5-3, with the bullpen throwing five scoreless innings in relief of Drew Pomeranz, who scuffled through 103 pitches in four innings.
Lindor, Ramirez continue to bash: Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez both got off to slow starts. Through the Indians' first 17 games, Lindor was hitting .205/.275/.356 and Ramirez was hitting .188/.316/.375. No doubt all that cold weather in April wasn't much fun to hit in.
Ramirez started to heat up first, then Lindor. In an 11-2 win over the Royals on Sunday, Lindor went 3-for-4 and is hitting .473 with eight home runs in 12 games in May. Ramirez went 2-for-3 with two walks and hit his 12th home run. He is hitting .333 with five home runs in May.
Despite those two hot streaks, the Indians climbed to just 20-19 with the win and are 5-7 this month. It's not like the rest of the offense has been dead weight, although Jason Kipnis has struggled and Edwin Encarnacion has hit just .204/.280/.408 despite nine home runs. Still, the Indians are fourth in the AL in runs per game. Corey Kluber, Sunday's winner, has been fine, as have Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger. Still, given Minnesota's 10-17 start, it has to be a little disappointing that Cleveland hasn't separated itself a little more. Three notes:
1. While you can't blame one guy, Josh Tomlin is 0-4 with an 8.06 ERA and has lost four of his five starts (he lost another game in relief). He's scheduled to start Tuesday, and with Danny Salazar and Ryan Merritt both injured, there isn't another great option here. Tomlin has gone through awful stretches before, so he'll get a chance to fix himself.
2. The Indians are 0-4 in extra-inning games and 5-9 in one-run games. Some of that is related to a bad bullpen that is 28th in the majors in ERA.
3. They're still the clear favorites to win a terrible division. Note that to this point, they've played only 31 percent of their games against AL Central teams compared to 47 percent over the course of the season. They still have a lot of games left against bad teams -- of course, so do the Twins.
Ohtani pitches a gem: Shohei Ohtani is back on his Sunday start schedule and while he got a no-decision in the Angels' 2-1, walk-off win over the Twins, he had one of his best starts yet with 11 strikeouts, three hits and two walks in 6⅓ innings. I'm continuing to see better command of the fastball and a more consistent curveball -- indeed, he threw his curveball a season-high 15.5 percent of his pitches.
Ohtani had a shutout through six innings and I was a little surprised he came out for the seventh after an 18-pitch sixth inning, including a 99.4 mph fastball to Eddie Rosario, the final batter of the inning and his hardest pitch of the game. He dialed it up, perhaps thinking that was his final batter. He ended up getting one out in the seventh and then leaving after a nine-pitch walk to Logan Morrison.
In one sense, it was another test for Ohtani, his first 100-pitch game, but he hasn't shown yet he can successfully get past 90 or so pitches. In his previous start against the Mariners, he also took a shutout into the seventh before giving up a single, home run and walk, and leaving after 98 pitches.
For the Twins, Fernando Romero allowed one run over five innings. His stuff is somewhat reminiscent of a young Felix Hernandez -- 95 mph fastball, slider, hard changeup he throws at 91. The command is nowhere near elite level and he was kind of effectively wild on Sunday, throwing 92 pitches in five innings, but he has a chance to be really good.
Weird outing of the day: The Phillies beat the Mets 4-2 as Jacob deGrom returned from his short DL stint. He also lasted just one inning:
Jacob deGrom has an absolutely wild 1st inning. 20 foul balls, 3 walks, 44 pitches, 2 K's and a Gold Glove play off the mound, while giving up no runs and no hits. I don't think I have ever seen anything like that in any baseball game I've seen #LGM— MetsAvenue (@MetsAvenue) May 13, 2018
How odd was deGrom's line? He's the first pitcher since official pitch counts began in 1988 to start a game, pitch an inning or less, throw at least 45 pitches and not allow a run. There was a one-hour rain delay after the inning and the Mets indicated deGrom was removed simply for precautionary reasons. That doesn't exactly soften the blow of the team's ninth loss in 11 games.
Tough day for Mariners: Jerry Dipoto not only saw Peralta mow down the Rockies -- Lind hit .239/.286/.431 in his one season with Seattle -- but the Mariners lost a James Paxton start when the Tigers scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on three ground-ball singles. They also lost Robinson Cano for six to eight weeks with a fractured fifth metacarpal. Durability has been Cano's hallmark as he's played 150-plus games the past 11 seasons (and at least 156 the 10 seasons before 2017). This will be his first DL stint since 2006.
It will be interesting to see what the Mariners do without Cano. The backup infielder on the 25-man roster is Andrew Romine, who can't hit, and they also have Taylor Motter in the minors, who also can't hit.
Of course, they also have Dee Gordon, who is struggling in his transition from second base to center field with minus-8 defensive runs saved. If he moves to second, that would mean moving Guillermo Heredia, who platoons in left field with Ben Gamel, to center. Gamel is struggling after also struggling in the second half last year (.227 after hitting .323 in the first half). The Mariners conceivably could move Nelson Cruz to the outfield and DH Dan Vogelbach, but Cruz hasn't played the outfield this season and played only five games there last season.
In part, this points to modern-day roster construction. The Mariners have just 15 position players on the 40-man roster, so they don't even have another outfielder besides the players on the 25-man roster. Jayson Werth is in Triple-A Tacoma, but he's hitting .155/.222/.224, and is probably at the end of the line.
Tougher day for Dodgers: Congrats to the Reds, who basically entered their four-game series at Dodger Stadium as the worst team in the majors, then swept all four games, holding the Dodgers to nine runs. They won 5-3 on Sunday as Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto homered.
With 5-3 Reds victory over LA:— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) May 13, 2018
1. completed their first 4-game sweep vs Dodgers since 1976
2. clinched a winning West Coast road trip
3. are 11-12 under Jim Riggleman
4. are still undefeated in the Matt Harvey era
5. are still undefeated in the Nick Krall era
The Dodgers? They stink. They're 16-24 and a bad baseball team right now. That's their worst 40-game record since 1958 (their first season in Los Angeles).
Finally ... Why do we love sports? Here's a story from Steve Wulf that helps explain why.