Jake Peavy has been as advertised since joining the Red Sox. Heck, he’s been better than advertised.
The biggest gripe among those who opposed last month’s trade — aside from Boston losing Jose Iglesias — was that the Red Sox seemingly acquired a pitcher who fit a middle-of-the-rotation mold. In other words, he seemed a bit redundant in a rotation that already consisted of multiple second-tier starters. Peavy has since silenced such concerns, though, and he has looked more and more like a staff leader during a crucial time for Boston.
Peavy spun an absolute gem on Sunday in Los Angeles. He gave up just one run on three hits and one walk while going the distance in an 8-1 win over the Dodgers. The right-hander struck out five — including Hanley Ramirez to finish off the complete game — and was in the driver’s seat from start to finish. His only blemish came in the fourth inning when Adrian Gonzalez launched a solo homer to center field to cut Boston’s lead to 3-1 at the time.
“He was efficient. He got a couple of big strikeouts when he needed, particularly [Andre] Ethier on the pinch-hit [in the fifth inning],” John Farrell said. “Because he was at the pitch count he was, he was pretty adamant. He wanted to finish this one off, and obviously over the course of his career he’s pitched very well in this ballpark.”
Peavy ran his career record against the Dodgers to 14-2 with Sunday’s victory. He owns a 2.21 ERA in 24 career starts against Los Angeles, with many of those starts coming when Peavy was considered the ace of the Padres’ staff for seven-plus seasons. Peavy may no longer be considered an ace, but the 32-year-old has provided a big boost to a rotation that is still without its ace, Clay Buchholz.
“Exactly what Ben [Cherington] had envisioned,” Farrell said of Peavy’s impact. “The need to put him in the rotation — that veteran presence. He gives us the ability to put [Brandon] Workman in the bullpen. Even if Clay were back with us right now, Jake’s outings have been very consistent. Kansas City maybe [was] a little bit of a blip, but he’s thrown the ball very well for us.”
Peavy is now 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA (12 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings) since joining the Red Sox. Sunday marked his first victory since his Red Sox debut on Aug. 3, but Peavy has pitched well each time he’s taken the mound, with the exception of Aug. 9 in Kansas City, when he gave up six runs in five innings. If good pitching is contagious — and it appears that it is right now — Peavy might be the guy responsible for Boston’s current run of solid mound work.
The Red Sox’ bullpen only needed to record five outs during the three-game weekend set in Los Angeles. John Lackey went the distance despite getting outdueled by Ricky Nolasco on Friday, Jon Lester went 7 1/3 impressive innings Saturday, and Peavy closed out the series in style on the national stage Sunday. The Red Sox had the luxury of missing out on facing L.A.’s top two starters, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, over the weekend, but given how sizzling the Dodgers have been of late, it’s hard to not be encouraged by how the Red Sox performed and, more specifically, how they pitched.
“You’re talking about two very good pitchers in those two guys,” Farrell said of Kershaw and Greinke. “It’s just how the schedule unfolded, but regardless of who we’re going up against, our guys had to execute. This is an offense that can be electric, that can beat you a number of different ways. Regardless of who the opposing starting pitchers were, our guys had to go out and execute, and I felt like we did.”
The Red Sox went 4-2 during their six-game West Coast swing, which also included a three-game stop in San Francisco, and the club’s starters posted a 1.12 ERA in that span. By dazzling on Sunday, Peavy made sure that the Red Sox would fly back across the country in better shape than they were in when the team boarded its flight to San Francisco last Monday.