Detroit Tigers Jhonny Peralta takes off after belting a double to center in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on October 15, 2013. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo
(UPI) -- The way Jhonny Peralta is playing this postseason, you'd never guess he had to sit 50 games in the second half of the year.
The Tigers infielder, suspended as part of the massive Biogenesis sweep that has the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez fighting a 211-game ban for his use of performance-enhancing drugs, has put to bed any question he'd be ready to return to full-time baseball -- and has others wondering whether he should have been allowed.
Peralta knocked in a 3-run home run in the pivotal Game Four victory over the Oakland A's in the American League Division Series.
And in a tightly fought three games in the League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox, Peralta's bat has been clutch.
Peralta's single in the sixth inning of Game One drove in the Tiger's only run of the game -- the only run they needed to beat the Red Sox's silent bats. In Game Two, Peralta kept a rally going in the second, lining a single into left field that got Victor Martinez into position to score on a hit from Alex Avila in the next at bat. He even walloped a double amid a spectacular effort from John Lackey in Tuesday's 1-0 loss in Game Three.
He's batting a whopping .417 in the playoffs, the highest average of anyone on the four teams still in the running.
Amid all this, some Red Sox players have been privately grumbling about his return, wondering if he's still feeling the effects of those banned substances.
But Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, the only player to speak on the record on the subject, defended Peralta's right to return.
"We all play by the rules, and he is playing by the rules," Gomes said. "So go out and play."
“He’s served his time, he deserves to play,” said Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter.
“All we’re doing is abiding by the rules,” added Detroit manager Jim Leyland. And since Peralta's probably going to a be a free agent next year, "someone," Leyland said, "is going to get a really good player and a great guy.”
The Tigers and the Red Sox will face off in Game Four of the ALCS Wednesday at 8 p.m. from Comerica Park. Boston leads the series 2-1.