DETROIT — It’s not what he originally hoped for when he signed his contract, but Jake Peavy has found the consolation prize to be quite amenable.
On Wednesday night, Peavy will start Game 4 of the American League Championship Series for the Boston Red Sox against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Boston needs only two more victories to clinch the AL pennant and reach the World Series — the destination Peavy dreamt about reaching with the White Sox when he opted to re-sign with them last October.
Though he still harbors disappointment over last season’s September collapse and the 2013 team’s poor performance, Peavy — acquired by the Red Sox in a three-team trade on July 30 — can’t help but feel fortunate for his new opportunity.
“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,” Peavy said. “Pitching in games that mean the world to your teammates, to yourself, to your coaching staff and your fan base.”
Wednesday is Peavy’s second such opportunity this postseason to make a start. He received a no-decision in Game 4 of the AL Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Oct. 8 despite only allowing one run and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in a game the Red Sox rallied to win, 3-1, and clinched an ALCS berth.
“I wish we could have scored a few runs for him so he could have pitched longer,” teammate and former White Sox pitcher Matt Thornton said. “He was throwing one heck of a game. He was down in the zone, attacking hitters and then made the one mistake to (David) DeJesus to score the run and that was it. But that’s playoff baseball.”
Prior to 2013, Peavy hadn’t pitched in the postseason since 2006 with the San Diego Padres.
He believed the White Sox had the chance to end that drought this season and chose to sign a two-year, $29-million deal with the club before he became a free agent last offseason. By June those hopes had vanished into midair, and it became obvious Peavy would be traded as long as he was healthy enough.
The right-hander returned from a fractured rib in July and showed Boston enough in two rehab starts for general manager Ben Cherington to pull the trigger. The Red Sox thus far are happy with their return as Peavy has given them another established starter in the rotation. Peavy went 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 starts with Boston after the trade.
“We know when he walks on the mound he’s going to lay it all on the line,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “There’s not going to be anything left in the tank when he walks off. 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.”
With seven days off in between starts, Peavy has had ample time to prep for an opponent he knows all too well. Peavy is 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA in 12 starts against Detroit and knows the Tigers lineup “creates a tough challenge, but it comes down to executing pitches,” he said.
If he can accomplish that it would only add to what Peavy said has been an exciting time in his career.
“Getting a chance to pitch in Tampa was fun for me,” Peavy said. “To go from us being so close there in Chicago and me just so badly wanting that chance and having such high expectations this year and to not fulfill those. To get traded over here and jump right in with guys who I felt I have known all my life it has been such a cool past few months, and it seems like it just keeps getting better.”