DETROIT – Jhonny Peralta was one win away from the World Series in 2007 when he was on a Cleveland Indians team full of former Buffalo Bisons. The Tribe had a 3-1 lead over Boston in that American League Championship Series but never got the last game it needed, dropping three straight as the Red Sox seized the series and went on to sweep Colorado.
Peralta is 30 now and in his eighth year as a full-time player in the major leagues. And he’s finally getting his trip to the Series.
“It’s unbelievable for me,” Peralta said Thursday in the mayhem of the Comerica Park clubhouse after his two-homer game helped the Tigers to their 8-1 win over the New York Yankees. “In ’07 I was close, really close but it just didn’t happen. Now this is the best moment for me.”
Peralta’s home runs were a two-run drive to left-center in the fourth off former ’07 Indians teammate CC Sabathia and a solo shot to left in the eighth off Derek Lowe. He became just the second Detroit shortstop with a two-homer game in the postseason, joining Alan Trammell (two in Game Four of the 1984 World Series against San Diego at Tiger Stadium).
Peralta went 7 for 18 in the series and is batting .343 in the postseason. All this after he batted a career-low .239 in the regular season.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” said Peralta, who was an International League Most Valuable Player for the Bisons in 2004, a first for the Herd since 1961. “I’ve tried to be the same player I was in the regular season, come to the field and do my job. It’s just been working out great.
“I don’t try to hit home runs. Today is unbelievable for me. Two home runs is something I’ve been waiting for [his only other multi-homer game this year was July 29 against Toronto]. I’m so happy with what happened today.”
The sweep seemed easy for the Tigers but Peralta said there were no relaxing moments until it was over. Like everyone in the Detroit clubhouse, he was worried the Yankees’ bats would wake up at any moment.
“It’s not easy. The Yankees are the Yankees,” he said. “They have so many really good players over there. To sweep them is unbelievable.”
Manager Jim Leyland said his Tigers took the momentum from their 6-4, 12-inning win in Game One – a game that saw them blow a 4-0 lead in the ninth – and never let go.
“To be honest with you, it’s a funny series,” Leyland said. “It will go down as a series that the Yankees won’t get any credit. I believe in the first couple of games we caught some breaks, we really did. ... I think Game One, as it turns out, was huge. After we blew that save and came back and won that game, that was huge.”
Detroit rookie outfielder Avisail Garcia drove in his team’s second run with a two-out RBI single in the third off Sabathia after falling behind in the count, 0 and 2. He has more RBIs in the postseason (four) than he did in the regular season (three) after spending most of it at Double-A Erie.
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera extended his LCS-record hitting streak to 17 games with his fourth-inning home run for the Tigers.