When Jake Peavy sat down and answered questions from the media Monday, the veteran had no idea whether he’d soon pitch the biggest game of his life. Peavy was prepared to do so, though.
Peavy, who has been penciled into Game 4 of the Red Sox-Rays ALDS since John Farrell announced Boston’s playoff rotation last Wednesday, will be asked to right the ship Tuesday after a devastating Game 3 loss on Monday kept Tampa Bay’s hopes alive. The right-hander is looking forward to the challenge, and the opportunity to make his first major impact with the Red Sox.
“We have a long way to go to achieve the goal that we all have in mind and there will be nothing that will be OK if that goal isn’t accomplished with me or with anybody in that clubhouse,” Peavy said before Monday’s game. “It will be a huge, huge disappointment. I’m not looking ahead by any means, but that is our ultimate goal.”
The Red Sox’ ultimate goal is obviously a World Series title, and Boston found out Monday that achieving that goal will be no easy task, especially with the scrappy Rays still clinging to life. The Sox have handled tough situations with a tremendous amount of resilience all season, though, and Peavy is prepared to try to execute his game plan as effectively as he can in Game 4.
“This Rays lineup, they really do a nice job of putting the ball in play and making the most out of the situations, the opportunities they have,” Peavy said Monday. “They just have such a good mentality as a team. They have a lot of the same mentality that our team has. They grind it out. They just are never out of it. They play good, hard baseball, hard‑nosed baseball.”
Peavy, a fierce competitor who shows emotion every time he takes the mound, knows a thing or two about “hard-nosed baseball,” and his bulldog mentality is part of the reason why the Red Sox coveted him just before the trade deadline. The 32-year-old only has two playoff starts on his resume, but he still tries to use every experience from his 12-year major league career to his advantage.
“I’m excited for this opportunity,” Peavy said. “It does [pose a different challenge], I guess, starting a little bit later [in the series]. I’ll be excited to pitch, but there won’t be any crazy nerves or any crazy excitement. It will be about staying under control for me and making as many quality pitches as I can make [Tuesday].”
Peavy hasn’t pitched in the postseason since 2006, when he was the ace of the Padres’ pitching staff. But seven years later, he has his health, his confidence and the extra motivation of playing for a team that he already considers family despite being with the organization for less than three months.
“I’ve had some incredible experiences, and I couldn’t ever think of feeling any more like a family, or like I belonged in San Diego, because that was all I knew. I was raised as a kid, drafted by that organization, and felt so close to everybody there, and played so long there and achieved some cool things. And even in Chicago had some great teams, great teammates, coaching staff and great memories,” Peavy said Monday. “But the day I walked in this [Red Sox] clubhouse, I felt like I was home. I felt like this is where I was meant to be. I belong with this group of players, with this group of coaching staff and front office and with this group of fans. This is where I belong. I’m a Boston Red Sox now. I know I’ve only been here two months, but I’m as emotionally attached and tied to this group of guys and this fan base and front office coaches and I’ll forever be. This is what baseball is about, and I’m honored to play here.”
Peavy and Boston has been a perfect match — both on and off the field — since the three-time All-Star was acquired from the White Sox on July 30. He went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 starts with the Red Sox down the stretch, and his intense, focused demeanor has meshed well with the relentless, workmanlike approach already established in this year’s team.
“Me, personally, I’ve never been around a group of guys who truly have one goal and it’s been that same ‑‑ it’s been that goal and it’s been talked about since the day I arrived,” Peavy said. “We’re going to win the World Series and do everything we can possibly do to make that happen.”
Peavy can pitch the Red Sox one step closer to their goal Tuesday.