Emotional Peavy ready for another postseason start
Veteran brings lessons learned in previous playoffs to Game 1 outing
WASHINGTON -- Jake Peavy has been here, done that. It took a combination of circumstances -- a midseason trade from Boston to San Francisco, the Giants' use of Madison Bumgarner in the win-or-go-home National League Wild Card Game victory over the Pirates -- but he finds himself getting another shot.
Another shot to help a team win. Another shot at rewriting his personal history.
The 33-year-old right-hander will be making his sixth career postseason start in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Friday at Nationals Park. It will come five days short of a calendar year after Peavy helped the Red Sox advance by holding the Rays to one run in 5 2/3 innings in Game 4 of their American League Division Series matchup.
That, Peavy said before the Giants went through their final tuneup Thursday, was his best playoff performance to date. He also mentioned feeling good about pitching out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the fourth inning of Game 3 against St. Louis in the World Series.
"I got good experience last year," he said. "I hope I showed, at the end of the day, the character I'll try to play with [Friday]. And no point in time will I ever give up."
Peavy also mentioned "a tough one" against the Tigers in the AL Championship Series last season and "a really bad day" against the Cardinals in 2005, starts that left his career postseason ERA at 9.27, a statistic that led him to be asked what the successes he had last year taught him.
"I don't know that I learned much of anything that I didn't already know," he said. "It comes down to executing better than I had in previous starts. Say what you want to say, other than the emotions and the atmosphere, nothing else is different about this game than a game we'd play a hundred times in the season."
Peavy didn't face the Nationals after coming back to the NL. But in 12 starts, he had a 2.17 ERA, compared to 4.72 with Boston. So Peavy will be not only trying to extend that sort of effectiveness, but to build on what he accomplished on baseball's biggest stage last October.
Peavy brought something else to San Francisco, too: a certain emotionalism that subtly changed the chemistry of a laid-back Giants clubhouse. He yells at himself on the mound and he also adds some zing on days he's not pitching.
"He can be very vocal in the dugout at times, which is good," said catcher Buster Posey. "I think we have, for the most part, a group of guys who aren't extremely vocal. So having him added to the mix is a good thing."
Posey may have been a little surprised by Peavy's occasional outbursts. Manager Bruce Bochy wasn't. He managed Peavy in San Diego when he broke into the league, had him when the youngster led the league in 2004 with a 2.27 ERA and followed it up the next year with a 2.88.
"I'm used to it," Bochy said with a laugh. "He's always been a guy who feeds off getting on himself, yelling at himself. That's what motivates him. That's what pushes him. That's his style and it works for him. He's as tough a competitor as you can have on the field."
Peavy insisted that, in reality, he's a mild-mannered sort -- at least until he gets into game mode.
"When the game starts, this competitiveness takes over that I can't hold back. I can't hide my emotions," he said. "I say a lot of stuff out there. Really a lot has to do with frustration when I falter mechanically. Sometimes I will be yelling before I turn the ball loose, knowing that I am not in the right position to make the pitch the way it needs to be.
"When I get out there, I expect to be perfect. I strive for perfection. Sometimes I get upset when I don't do that. That is what I have to do. I have to emotionally let it go and move on to the next pitch. I love positive-mind thinking. I love saying positive stuff to myself when I am getting ready to make a pitch. When I am yelling, for the most part, [I'm] yelling at myself, out of frustration there. Once that comes out, I promise you, there is a thought process over the next 15 seconds of situations in a game, batter, what we are doing."
Peavy also understands that it can look different from the outside.
"You know, I have children at home. I understand the role-model aspect of things. I promise you, I will do everything that I can do not to say a cuss word tomorrow," he said with a smile.
"But I can't promise I won't. It is who I am. I can't apologize for the passion and emotion that I will show. It is going to be honest, I promise you that. I'm an emotional guy. That's one thing I hope never gets lost."