CLEVELAND: Jhonny Peralta hit a leadoff home run in the fourth inning to put the Indians ahead 2-1 Sunday against the Mariners, and the Tribe went on to win 6-1.
Peralta also delivered a two-out single in the first inning to drive in the first run of the game. Both hits came against one of the more lethal starters in the American League, Felix Hernandez, who came into the game with a 12-4 record and 2.66 earned-run average.
"I don't really hit good against him,'' Peralta said. ""But I guess today was a different day.''
Maybe Peralta didn't know his career average against Hernandez coming into the game was .286 (4-for-14) with a double. ¶
In the second half, at least, these kinds of contributions by Peralta have become routine. ¶
""Jhonny had a real good day,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""He's probably been our most consistent hitter in the second half.'' ¶
Peralta's consistency is easily noticed, because it is in such sharp contrast to a first-half slump that included a .257 batting average with six home runs and 38 RBI. But since the All-Star Game, Peralta has regained his edge at the plate, batting .324 with four homers and 29 RBI in 34 games. ¶
What happened in the second half? ¶
""Nothing is different, except that I am trying to be patient at the plate and look for a good pitch to hit. That's the only thing.'' ¶
Peralta always has been a streaky hitter, but his down period lasted much longer this season than in previous years. There really is no way to account for slumps. If there were, players would explode out of them much quicker and easier. ¶
But Peralta admits that this time he was beginning to get concerned. ¶
""I was worried a little bit,'' he said. ""I know this happened to me every year, so I just try to finish strong. I thought something good would happen in the second half. In the first half I was swinging at bad pitches, lots of balls.'' ¶
Simple in the explanation but not so simple to reverse a bad habit. ¶
Meanwhile, Matt LaPorta doubled home a run in the four-run sixth to help break the game open. ¶
LaPorta seems more comfortable at the plate than he did in his initial stint in the big leagues in May. ¶
""I think he's more under control,'' Wedge said. ""But it's early. There's no need to be evaluating him yet.'' ¶
ON A RUN -- Chris Perez was summoned to pitch the ninth inning for the third time since being traded to Cleveland June 27. None of the appearances came in a save situation, but at the moment, if closer Kerry Wood needs a day off, Perez is his likely replacement. ¶
Including his scoreless inning against the Mariners, Perez has a string of 15 scoreless outings since July 7. Over this span he has allowed five hits and struck out 19 in 151/3 innings. Opposing hitters are batting .104 against him over this stretch. ¶
OTHER STUFF -- The Indians have won seven of their last 10 series. *elip Matt LaPorta, 1-for-4 Sunday, has hit safely in all four games since being recalled. *elip Luis Valbuena's 11th inning game-winner Saturday night was the Indians' first walk-off homer since Sept. 16, 2008, against the Twins. *elip Valbuena is batting .327 with four doubles, a triple and two home runs in his past 13 games. ¶
FARM FACTS -- Jordan Brown doubled and singled twice to raise his average to .336 in Columbusd' 16-2 loss to Toledo. *elip Nick Hagadone worked three scoreless and hitless innings, walking one and striking out five, but Lake County lost 4-3 to Lakewood. *elip Jason Kipnis doubled twice and drove in four runs, as Mahoning Valley beat Auburn 11-9. Chun-Hsiu Chen homered, singled and drove in three runs. ¶