There shouldn't have been any doubt about Jhonny Peralta's ability to hit for power.
After all, it was just two years ago that Peralta hit 24 home runs to break a 44-year-old season club record for homers by a shortstop. (Woodie Held hit 23 in 1961.)
After dipping to 13 last year, Peralta came back to hit 21 homers, cementing his reputation as a hitter to be reckoned with.
Even so, when he stepped in against Curt Schilling with one out and two aboard in the fourth inning last night and launched a 1-and-1 offering toward dead center, Peralta seemed uncertain about whether he hit the ball far enough to leave the premises.
As he came steaming into second base, Peralta pulled up with what he thought was a stand-up double.
Shooting a quick glance toward center field, Peralta did a double take when he saw Coco Crisp casually corral the ball after it had caromed off the wall. Peralta, unaware he had hit just delivered a go-ahead, three-run homer, looked over toward second base umpire Paul Emmel, who signaled the good news by waving his hand in a circular motion.
The home run curbed any momentum gathered by the Red Sox, who taken a 3-1 lead in the third.
"That's one I'll always wonder about," Schilling said, hours after the at-bat, reflecting on the Indians' 13-6 victory in 11 innings.
"[Peralta] put a great swing on a pitch that I thought was the right pitch at the right spot. And he hit it out."
Peralta, who had gone 1 for 6 in his career against Schilling before last night, was in the middle of many of the Indians' outbursts. Peralta, 25, was 3 for 5 (including a double) with three runs and four RBIs. It was a familiar sight this postseason as Peralta has 11 hits in 24 at-bats (.458).
Even when he wasn't hitting, Peralta was proving to be critical to Cleveland's chances. He drew a leadoff walk in the sixth off reliever Manny Delcarmen that turned out to be pivotal.
The Indians began the inning trailing, 6-5, after the Red Sox had put a three-spot on the scoreboard courtesy of Manny Ramírez's two-run homer and Mike Lowell's solo shot.
Peralta walked, moved to third on Kenny Lofton's single to right, and scored the tying run on Franklin Gutierrez's grounder to short.
Peralta recorded his third hit of the night in the 11th when he pushed across Cleveland's ninth run with a double to left off lefthander Jon Lester.
One batter later, Peralta came home on Gutierrez's three-run homer that dealt the Sox a crowning blow and enabled the Indians to salvage a split at Fenway.