BOSTON (CBS) – Over the first 11 years of his MLB career, Jake Peavy made just two postseason starts.
Now, as a member of the Boston Red Sox, he is set to make his second playoff start of the season Wednesday night when he gets the ball in Game 4 of the ALCS in Detroit.
With his team holding a 2-1 series lead following their 1-0 win in Tuesday night’s Game 3, Peavy is excited for his opportunity to inch his team that much closer to a World Series berth.
“That was the exciting part about getting traded,” Peavy said of the July three-team swap that sent him to Boston. “It was obviously hard to leave a place I loved and had so many friendships and relationships with in Chicago. But when you get traded, you know you’re going to a contender and this is what, as a competitor, as a baseball player, playing at the highest level, you dream of being able to do; pitch in games that mean the world to your teammates, to yourself, to your coaching staff and your fan base.”
Peavy got the call in the deciding game of the ALDS last week, taking a no-decision in Boston’s 3-1 win over the Rays. He allowed just one earned run on five hits over 5.2 innings that game, and is hoping to give an even better effort this time out.
But his next challenge comes against a team that has seen plenty of him, and has enjoyed some success off the right-hander — especially the top of the Detroit order.
Leadoff man Austin Jackson (who may not be in the leadoff spot for long) is a career 9-for-28 against Peavy with three triples and a homer. Torii Hunter has had the most success against Peavy, with a .438 average (7-for-16), a homer and seven RBIs. Miguel Carberea has also had success, with three of his 13 hits off Peavy being homers.
“I do know those guys well,” Peavy said of the Tigers, who he is 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA in 12 career starts against. “We had a lot of matchups — some of them went well, some of them didn’t go so well. That’s all out the window. All I heard was the playoff starts, all of that stuff is out the window. It comes down to [Wednesday] night, executing the game plan that we think we’re going to go with and get those guys out. It’s a huge challenge with the way they swing the bat.”
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With Peavy getting his first career start in a League Championship Series, you can count on him to be his usual amped-up self. While it may look a little odd for a pitcher to be yelling at the ball, his glove, and mostly himself on the mound, it’s something manager John Farrell looks forward to seeing out of his starter.
“He’s a competitor, and that goes back to long before he came to the big leagues. That’s the way he’s made, that’s the way he’s wired,” Farrell said of Peavy. “We know when he walks on the mound he’s going to lay it all on the line, there’s not going to be anything left in the tank when he walks off. I think he brings ‑‑ I think our guys in the dugout feed off the times he’s yelling at himself to try to motivate himself at key moments. He’s accountable. He’s stand‑up. He takes responsibility for all that takes place between the lines. And we know for a fact by watching his preparation he’s going to be ready to go on the day he’s called upon.”
Peavy will be opposed by Doug Fister for Detroit, who is 2-4 with a 4.36 ERA in eight starts against Boston. Fister started two games against the Red Sox this season with mixed results; he was shelled for six runs in 3.1 innings at Comerica on June 21, but shut down the Sox over seven innings on September 2 at Fenway Park.
While some of Boston’s big bats have struggled against Fister — David Ortiz and Mike Napoli are a combined 7-for-32 with seven strikeouts — a few bats further down the order have had success. Daniel Nava, who is expected to get the start in left field, is 5-for-12 with three doubles while catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 5-for-11 with two doubles and a home run in their careers against Fister.
Shane Victorino has also had success against Fister in a small sample, going 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs against the Detroit right-hander.
While Fister doesn’t possess the power arm the other Detroit starters have, Farrell noted that he does a great job controlling the run game. What hurt the Sox most in their September loss to Fister was the three double plays they grounded into, ending potential rallies in the first, second and sixth innings.
“He’s got the ability to get two outs with one pitch,” Farrell said of Fister. ” Everything moves as it comes across home plate. He might not have the sheer power and velocity the other three guys have in this rotation, but he does it a little differently. And like I said, his biggest weapon is his ability to get two outs with one pitch.”
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