Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland was saying over the weekend that Jhonny Peralta was quietly getting the job done for his team, both offensively and defensively. Peralta was indeed having a solid season. Leyland was telling reporters that his shortstop wasn’t getting the credit he deserved.
That might have been the case, but it doesn’t matter now. What does matter is that Peralta, now suspended by MLB for violations of the drug policy, is not available for the Tigers’ next 49 games after sitting out his first suspended contest Monday in the Tigers’ 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Even though they won without him Monday night, the Tigers need Peralta for the stretch run to an American League Central title .
He’s had some clutch hits, but he showed on Sunday that he has a game-saving glove. In the top of the 10th inning, he made a sensational running catch of a pop fly that appeared to be ready to drop and give the Chicago White Sox the go-ahead run. The Tigers won the game 3-2 in the bottom of the 12th.
Peralta has delivered in the clutch all season. The team’s acquisition of Jose Iglesias, especially for defensive purposes, is a smart deal. He’s at shortstop filing in for Peralta while Miguel Cabrera is back at third base after being idle for most of the weekend with a sore hip.
The Tigers can’t afford any more injuries now that Peralta is unavailable. Cabrera and the rest of his teammates have to stay healthy as the team tries to distance itself from the Indians for the AL Central Division lead. But if the team falters down the stretch, there’s no doubt the Tigers will wonder what might have been if Peralta had behaved himself and stayed out of trouble.