It was a scoreless game in the eighth inning the other day in Detroit and the Tigers had the go-ahead run at second base with two outs when Rays manager Joe Maddon had Alex Cobb walk Miguel Cabrera intentionally.

Pick your poison, right? Pitch to Cabrera with the game on the line or pitch to Prince Fielder, the next hitter.

Maddon opted for Fielder. Then he opted for Joel Peralta.

Why not? No member of the Rays bullpen faces the heart of the opposing team's lineup more often than Peralta.

“I'm kind of used to it,” Peralta said. “It's been like that since I got here. It don't really matter any more.”

It mattered Wednesday, when Peralta struck out Fielder, the Tigers' cleanup hitter, to send the game to the ninth, where the Rays won it with a three-run inning. Peralta was credited with the win.

The following day Maddon offered Peralta as the team's MVP through the first 11 weeks of the season.

“To this point he might be our most valuable player when you look at the whole scope of things,” Maddon said. “Of course Longo and Loney and all those guys, but the fact that we struggled a bit in the bullpen and kind of gave it some definition while all the bad things have been going on. He's been a huge contributor.”

Evan Longoria is back to playing like a Gold Glove-winning All-Star now that he's healthy. James Loney was the find of the offseason, providing the Rays with Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base and exceeding everyone's expectations with his offense.

Peralta? He woke up Saturday tied for the American League-lead in appearances with 32 — 24 of which have been scoreless.

He's holding hitters to a .170 average. He's holding left-handers to a .165 average.

What makes Peralta so valuable as the eighth-inning set-up man is his ability to retire lefties. Because of that, Maddon calls him the best left-handed reliever in the game.