ST. LOUIS — As soon as Jhonny Peralta connected with J.C. Ramirez’s slider, the Cardinals’ shortstop knew he’d done something special.
Peralta took a brief moment to admire his work before starting to run toward first, just to make sure. But speed wouldn’t be necessary as the ball sailed over the left-field wall to give St. Louis a 3-2 walk-off win in 10 innings over Arizona.
"This is the best feeling that you can feel," Peralta said. "Home run to win the game. The best."
It’s a feeling Matt Adams and Kolten Wong have both experienced as well in the first two months of a season filled with drama, including four walk-off wins. Matt Carpenter earned the other game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly, and he also hit an extra-inning home run for a 7-5 win at Cincinnati.
Peralta says all the Cardinals are comfortable in those late-inning, pressure situations, and it’s a big reason they own baseball’s best record at 29-16. Most often the spotlight shines on leaders such as Carpenter and Matt Holliday, or even Wong with his penchant for delivering big hits.
But Peralta provides plenty of production as well, starting with a .304 average and a .488 slugging percentage. His seventh home run of the season put him just one behind Carpenter for the team lead, and his 23 RBIs are tied for second with Holliday.
"He’s got that sneaky power that’s going to jump out of the park if you do make a mistake," manager Mike Matheny said. "The game looks easy to him. He plays the game at a pace that allows him to really enjoy going out and doing what he does."
The veteran doesn’t mind leading when necessary, and he was just looking to get on base when he led off the 10th. Some familiarity with Ramirez from their time as opponents in the American League proved beneficial.
Peralta leads all MLB shortstops in home runs, and only two have more RBIs. The 13-year veteran looks to be on track to match or exceed his typical career numbers a quarter of the way through the season as he provides a steady bat in the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup for the second straight year.
They needed him Monday after Arizona’s Mark Trumbo spoiled Carlos Martinez’s seven dominant innings with a two-run home run off Kevin Siegrist in the eighth. The lefty hadn’t given up a run in his past 13 appearances and walked two more batters before Seth Maness came in to clean up the mess.
"You come in there after single, homer, walk, walk and then somehow get us out of it, it’s a great job by Seth Maness," Matheny said. "Especially since he hasn’t felt like himself or gotten the results that are typical of Seth, but I don’t know a bigger outing than what he had right there."
Trevor Rosenthal held Arizona scoreless over the next two innings, and Peralta’s homer ensured St. Louis kept its record perfect at 23-0 when leading after seven.