Jhonny Peralta - AP Image
(DETROIT FREE PRESS - DREW SHARP) - The ball sailed just over the wall in leftfield. And with it went the last vestige of public acrimony surrounding Jhonny Peralta. Any potential dilemma over what's right and what's wrong dissipated with the vision of the first Tigers home run in the last two weeks.
Sure, he's an admitted cheater.
But he's our admitted cheater.
And if everybody's breaking the rules, then there's nothing wrong with remolding our ethics as long as the home team benefits from the moral adjustment, right?
That's the convenient rationalization. It also helps that Peralta has become the most effective run producer on a team starving for runs.
His three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning brought the Tigers back from a 3-0 deficit and injected much needed exuberance into a Comerica Park crowd fearful that Tigers' bats would remain asleep until the start of spring training.
"His shot gave us all an incredible charge," teammate Torii Hunter said. "We've been scuffling for runs the last three games. We're a team that relies on the big blast, and you couldn't think of a better time to finally get that blast."
Peralta was a big reason the Tigers will play Game 5. Their bats finally came alive with two home runs and with Austin Jackson delivering arguably the biggest base hit of his four-year career when he drove home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh.
It was important because Jackson had been hugely disappointing up until his soft - though effective - hit dropped into rightfield.
This was an impressive comeback for the Tigers considering it could've been the second straight series (going back to last year's World Series) that they watched the visitors dance in triumph on Detroit's home turf.
Hunter and Victor Martinez orchestrated a players-only meeting before Tuesday's game. They reminded everyone that a tight, panicky team can't succeed. If they stayed loose and stayed confident, there was a chance the dynamite could return to their bats.
But ultimately it comes back to the Peralta conundrum.
I'm loving this, especially as it pertains to college football fanatics in Ann Arbor and East Lansing who lament how their football teams conduct business "the right way" and how they're at a competitive disadvantage against programs that bend the rules.
But if you're willing to cheer Peralta, then you can't condemn those others.
Peralta leads the Tigers with five RBIs in this series. He's making the organization look like geniuses for bringing him back.
Winning makes it easier to forgive one's sins, and it's moments like this that make sports a beautiful thing with all its complexities.
If the Tigers win this series and Peralta is one of the stars, the achievement will be tainted. Yet fans don't seem to mind.
To the man's credit, Peralta worked hard to try to redeem his name and reputation. It's nothing short of remarkable that he has regained his offensive timing after missing seven weeks.
"I tried to be ready," Peralta said. "I know in the Dominican Republic, I tried to practice over there and tried to be ready for the playoff."
Peralta said general manager Dave Dombrowski "gave me the opportunity to be here, and he said yes. He said that he got to need me for offense, the situation that we're in right now."
Of course, Peralta helped put the Tigers in the position of desperately needing more offense with his 50-game suspension.
Nonetheless, Peralta is appreciative that fans generally have forgiven him. When he returned to leftfield in the top of the sixth inning, the person who caught his three-run homer threw it back to him, presumably as a gift for a shot well-timed.
The man who got another chance provided the Tigers with another chance.
Detroit Free Press