Right-hander done in by lack of control, defense in five-run second inning
DETROIT -- It was an at-bat, an inning and a night Jake Peavy would like to have back.
The veteran right-hander, whose Sox were changed from White to Red before the non-waiver Trade Deadline to beef up Boston's starting rotation down the stretch of the 2013 season, didn't get the job done in a 7-3 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday night in his only start in the American League Championship Series, and most of the damage was done in the second inning.
After a sparkling first inning in Game 4 at Comerica Park that included an impressive freezing of Miguel Cabrera for a called third strike, everything unraveled for Peavy in the telltale second, costing the Red Sox a chance to go up, 3-1, in the series and have a shot at wrapping it up here on Thursday night in Game 5 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.
Peavy gave up a leadoff single to Victor Martinez, walked Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila to load the bases, and got Omar Infante on a sinking line drive to center field that was snagged by a charging, diving Jacoby Ellsbury in a fine run-saving defensive play.
Peavy couldn't capitalize on that spark, though, and made the biggest mistake of the night to the next hitter, Austin Jackson. Peavy walked him on four pitches, scoring the Tigers' first run.
"Peavy is always around the plate, but some of those pitches weren't even close," Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said. "We were patient, made him get the ball up and were able to capitalize on his mistakes."
The biggest one was to Jackson, who entered the game hitting .077 (1-for-13) in the series and had been moved from his customary leadoff spot to eighth in the order by Detroit manager Jim Leyland in an effort to take some pressure off.
"We get to Jackson and we know he's not swinging the bat that well, that's why he's in the eight-hole," Peavy said. "We've got to make him swing the bat, and we just couldn't do that there.
"We dug ourselves a hole. ... We had some chances to get out of that inning and minimize the damage if I make better pitches to Jackson."
But it didn't end there.
The next batter, Jose Iglesias, drove in another run with a fielder's choice grounder that Dustin Pedroia might have turned into a double play had the hard-hit ball not popped out of his glove, taking away the necessary time required to possibly get Iglesias at first. Torii Hunter doubled home two more and Miguel Cabrera singled in another for a 5-0 Tigers lead.
"It's my fault," Pedroia said. "We've got to turn that double play and we didn't. It was hit hard, and it's one of those things. He backspun it, I thought it was going to hop up and it stayed down, it landed in the web of my glove and went up and it was one out instead of two. It's my responsibility to turn double plays. Peav got a ground ball. That ball was smoked. If I catch it, we're getting two."
After that, Peavy's night caved in.
In the fourth inning, Infante led off with a ground-rule double and Jackson came through again, singling to make it 6-0. Iglesias sacrifice-bunted Jackson to second, and two batters later Cabrera came through with another RBI base hit. That was all the Tigers needed.
"We had a great game plan going into it, but maybe we were a little too excited and overthrowing a little bit," Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "The stuff was there, just left it over the plate too much.
"Execution, I think, was just the biggest key tonight. We weren't executing the way we were trying to."
Peavy was charged with all seven Detroit runs on five hits and three walks in his three innings.
But Peavy and Pedroia and the rest of the Red Sox were willing to quickly leave this one in the past, focusing instead on getting ready for Thursday's Game 5 with the series now knotted at 2-2.
"I feel like I let the boys down," Peavy said. "It's a bad taste in my mouth. I just couldn't make that big pitch to minimize the damage. As we all know with that ballclub, innings can escalate and can get out of hand at any moment.
"No excuse. It's on me, and I can promise you this: we'll be back tomorrow as a ballclub, as a unit, ready to go."