'Energy giver' burns ex-club to lift Dodgers

Peralta delivers in lefty-on-lefty matchup a day after robbing HR at former home park

August 10th, 2023

PHOENIX -- has been in this position before.

The crowd roared as he stepped to the plate with the game on the line at Chase Field. And once again, Peralta delivered and did his signature "Freight Train" celebration as he enjoyed the moment, except this time he did it with "Dodgers" stitched across his chest.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning against his former club, Peralta saw a pitch he liked from Kyle Nelson, a fastball away. Peralta pulled it to right field for a hit, allowing Freddie Freeman and Will Smith to trot home and give the Dodgers a 2-0 win on Wednesday night, a two-game sweep of the D-backs and another special moment at the ballpark Peralta called home from 2014-22.

“Every time I step to the field, it’s special,” Peralta said. “I'm glad that I'm here, it’s a blessing that I'm here. The team is winning. You just have to take it game by game. So tomorrow, I'm going to say it again. Today we celebrate, tomorrow is another day. We're going to do the same thing.”

Peralta spent eight-plus years in the desert, amid the thick of six losing seasons and only one playoff appearance. The “Freight Train” won a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove and the hearts of many D-backs fans for the energy he brought to the field during his time in Arizona. It’s the same energy D-backs manager Torey Lovullo praised to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts about during Spring Training, letting Roberts know the whole team would love it.

“That's exactly how it's played out,” Roberts said. “Freddie is that blue-collar leader guy, everyone follows his lead. But if you're talking about an energy giver, that's David. He prepares so well. He likes to be in those big spots, moments are never too big for him. I talked about dependable players, David is a dependable player.”

Roberts doesn’t just speak about his confidence in Peralta, he shows it on the field. He trusted Peralta to deliver in that big moment against Nelson, a lefty vs. lefty matchup.

“I just felt that David was in the game, he’s been hanging in there vs. lefties. I don't think that Nelson has a wipeout slider,” Roberts said. “I thought ‘David is going to put the ball in play.’ And so I went with it, and to his credit, it was a good at-bat and it won the game for us.”

Peralta valued the importance of being in that spot, especially considering he’s only had 24 at-bats against left-handers this season. Although he acknowledges that with the Dodgers he is mostly in a platoon situation, when his manager shows faith in him to be a game-changer, it boosts his confidence.

“It was huge for me for [Roberts] to trust and give me the trust and the confidence in that situation,” Peralta said. “I was just trying to calm down and do my job. … It's not to put pressure on myself, but I came through and helped the team win, which is huge.”

The win gives the first-place Dodgers a six-game cushion in the National League West, and Peralta has been a key contributor. In his age-35 season, he continues to perform as he did during his prime with Arizona. He has a slash line of .277/.308/.411 with 44 RBIs. He’s also proven to be valuable on defense, as on Tuesday he robbed the D-backs of a two-run homer that could have easily changed the momentum of the game.

“When you’re in baseball, a lot of people say there's a former team card and you usually play good against your former teams,” Freeman said. “And I'm glad that happened right there.

“He just fit in perfectly.”