Jake Peavy isn’t afraid to yell at himself on the mound. He did it a little more than he would have liked Friday.
Peavy struggled in his second start with the Red Sox, and Boston dropped its second straight game in Kansas City. Peavy showed an inability to put hitters away in his five-plus innings of work, and his all-too-familiar trend of struggling on the road continued.
“It just wasn’t our night,” Peavy said after Boston’s 9-6 loss. “Obviously, I take the blame. Your offense can’t score six runs and you not win the game in a game you start. There’s no excuse. I just didn’t get it done.”
The Red Sox jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning, but the Royals captured a lead in the second inning when Justin Maxwell smacked a leadoff home run and David Lough delivered a two-out RBI single. The Red Sox quickly regained the lead in the third inning when David Ortiz homered and Jarrod Saltalamacchia yanked a two-out RBI double down the right field line. But again, the Royals struck back, as Alex Gordon extended his arms on an outside fastball and sent a solo blast to straightaway center field.
It was clear by the third inning that neither starter brought his “A” game. The offenses were trading blows, and Peavy labored through 73 high-stress pitches in his first three frames. Peavy still had a chance to guide the Red Sox to victory, though, as Mike Napoli drilled a bases-clearing double to right-center field in the fourth inning that gave Boston a 6-3 lead.
Peavy enjoyed his one and only 1-2-3 inning minutes after Napoli’s double, and he tossed another scoreless frame in the fifth inning after Napoli kickstarted a crucial double play. The right-hander couldn’t stay on track, though, and it all started to unravel again the sixth inning.
“Well, the way he had settled in, he had a couple of quick innings in the fourth and fifth, it seemed to gain some momentum on our part, particularly after the three-run double by Napoli,” manager John Farrell said. “We took a three-run lead into the sixth and figure he’s probably got about one inning left in him, given where he was with his pitch count, but he left a few pitches up in the strike zone that inning when they were able to bunch the first three hits of the inning. I’m not going to say it’s surprising. They battled. They swung the bats very well tonight, and when we mislocated, they made us pay.”
Peavy walked off the mound in the sixth inning without recording an out in the frame. He gave up three straight singles to Maxwell, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar, and all three runners eventually scored as part of a six-run outburst that effectively swung the momentum in Kansas City’s favor.
Peavy was charged with six runs on 10 hits Friday, which is a stark contrast from his first outing with the Red Sox, when he lasted seven innings and surrendered just two runs on four hits. Peavy didn’t strike anyone out in Thursday’s start after fanning seven in his Boston debut.
“I think the put-away pitch was a little elusive for him,” Farrell said. “A number of two-strike base hits, particularly going the other way, which they pronounced their two-strike approach to their credit. They put the ball in play [and] go the other way. I can’t say that there was anything glaring other than the overall result with his stuff compared to six days ago in Boston, but we couldn’t stop the momentum in the sixth.”
Peavy has had a hard time stopping momentum on the road overall this season. Peavy is 6-0 with a 2.59 ERA in seven starts in front of a home crowd, and he’s now 3-4 with a 6.65 ERA in eight road starts.
Does this trend mean anything? Maybe not, especially since he was dealing with a rib injury during back-to-back road starts — on May 30 and June 4 — in which he surrendered 12 earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. But it’s a trend worth monitoring when you’re talking about a pitcher who openly wears his heart on his sleeve.
Peavy will continue to chirp at himself for as long as he toes a big league rubber. The Red Sox just hope it’s more a byproduct of rising to the occasion going forward.