Peralta, Blake take their turns as stars
Both homer in game-turning fifth inning in ALCS Game 4
CLEVELAND -- Those around the Cleveland Indians don't seem to say a whole lot about Cleveland shortstop Jhonny Peralta, but they may start if this keeps up.They may be calling him the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Third baseman Casey Blake hasn't been bad, either. There may be bigger names in the Indians' lineup, but those two were big enough in a seven-run fifth inning that has put the Cleveland Indians within one victory of going back to the World Series for the first time since 1997. Blake started and ended the inning and Peralta had his second big blast of the series as the Indians defeated the Boston Red Sox, 7-3, in Game 4 at Jacobs Field on Tuesday night. They are now up, 3-1, in the ALCS. "We're excited," Peralta said. "We just need one more game." Blake started the inning with a leadoff home run and ended the frame's scoring with an RBI single. Peralta broke the game open with his second three-run homer of the series. He also had a fourth-inning double for the Indians' first hit and is now hitting .353 (6-for-17) with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs off Red Sox pitching. "Man, he has been huge," first baseman Victor Martinez said. "But every night it's somebody different. That's what makes this team exciting, we expect anything from anybody." The Indians did most of their damage against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who allowed only Peralta's double through the fourth inning before it all unraveled on him in the fifth. "It took us a few innings to figure out what we were doing," catcher Kelly Shoppach said. "We needed to make him get the ball up. We were struggling, but once Jhonny got that double, we figured we could hit him." Blake erased any doubt about that when he belted an 0-1 knuckleball over the left-field wall to give the Indians the first run of the game. "I wanted to be aggressive," Blake said. "I mean, the first pitch looked like it was going to be chest high, and that thing just dropped off the table for a strike. With [Wakefield], it's just a matter of maybe just getting one that doesn't move that much and just trying to square it up.
"Sometimes your up there just scratching and battling, just trying to make solid contact and not look like an idiot up there. ... I got lucky, hit one on the barrel, and it seemed like that got us going a little bit."It did. Franklin Gutierrez followed with a double to left and Shoppach was hit by a pitch. Grady Sizemore forced Shoppach with a grounder to second but Asdrubal Cabrera reached on an infield hit off Wakefield's glove to score Gutierrez and make it a 2-0 game. "It's the postseason, and you have to stop the bleeding as quick as possible," Wakefield said. "Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to do that. It's very stunning. You work and prepare and do all the things you're supposed to do and sometimes a break's got to go your way. Unfortunately, that inning ... they put enough hits together at the right time to continue the inning." Wakefield did strike out Travis Hafner, but Martinez singled home Sizemore and the Red Sox knuckleballer was done for the evening. It's the third straight game the Red Sox's starting pitcher hasn't been able to get through the fifth inning, and that's the first time that has happened to them all season. Manny Delcarmen replaced Wakefield, but Peralta greeted him with a three-run home run into the right-field seats. "I'm just trying to do the best I can," Peralta said. "I'm not trying to do too much, but everything is happening for me right now." Peralta's homer made it 6-0, but the Indians weren't done. Kenny Lofton singled, stole second and scored on Blake's bloop single to center to add one more run to the Red Sox's increasing agony. This was the Indians' second seven-run inning of the series. They also scored seven in the 11th inning of Game 2 at Fenway Park. The only other team to have two seven-run innings in an ALCS was the Baltimore Orioles against the Minnesota Twins in 1970. "Casey Blake, that was big for us," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "To get on the board and break through, because we weren't stringing anything together. Then it just kind of went on from there."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.