MILWAUKEE -- Where was thisWily Peralta in the first half of the season?
The big right-hander stood on the Miller Park mound on Tuesday for the first time since being demoted to the Minors in June, sporting extra zip on his fastball and the results to match -- at least for six strong innings. In the seventh, the Braves walked and singled their way to a go-ahead rally, inflicting a 2-1 loss for the Brewers at Miller Park, tarnishing Peralta's otherwise brilliant return.
"I felt, pretty much, like I was making my debut today," Peralta said.
It was a debut, take two.
The Brewers' Opening Day starter, Peralta returned with some extra kick on his fastball. In his first 13 starts, he threw 24 pitches above 97 mph, and only one that topped 98 -- a two-seamer to the Giants' Joe Panik on Opening Day that induced a groundout to end Peralta's first inning of the season.
On Tuesday alone, starting in place of the injured Junior Guerra, Peralta threw 18 pitches above 97 mph and seven pitches above 98. He topped 99 mph for the first time this season, with a 99.3 mph two-seamer that induced Freddie Freeman's groundout in the fourth.
"It was very encouraging," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I don't know if it was the velocity; he certainly mixed in the off-speed. There were some good changeups. The curveball, he used. The slider, he used. I think that made the fastball play up, as much as anything.
"He pitched really well. He deserved better."
Peralta had a 6.68 ERA through 13 starts when the Brewers demoted him June 12, and he posted a 6.31 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs. But he was in control for most of his time on the mound Tuesday. Peralta held the Braves scoreless on two hits for the first six innings, earning the right to throw his first pitches of the season in the seventh. That inning started with a walk and continued with ground-ball singles for Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis, tying the game at 1 and chasing Peralta.
"I was still feeling really, really strong," Peralta said. "Like with Matt Kemp, I made a great pitch and it found the hole. There's nothing you can do in that situation."
Every time Peralta found trouble in the early innings, a defender was in the right spot. When Ender Inciarte walked on the game's first four pitches, catcher Manny Pina threw him out trying to steal second. When Garcia hit a grounder up the middle in the second, Brewers second baseman Hernan Perez made a terrific pick and throw to first. After Peralta threw away Jenkins' sacrifice bunt in the third, Pina picked-off Anthony Recker at second base. And when Erick Aybar hit an infield single in the fourth for the Braves' first hit, then took off from first on a pitch in the dirt, Pina was there once again. He threw to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who started a rundown that ended with 245-pound first baseman Chris Carter tagging -- and tackling -- Aybar near second base.
Peralta is already scheduled to start again on Sunday against the Reds.
"I'm not going to try to do more, try to do anything different in my next start," he said.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.