Peavy ‘excited’ to be thrown into the fire with Giants

Published: Saturday, Jul. 26, 2014 - 11:03 pm

SAN FRANCISCO -- New Giants starter Jake Peavy said he ducked into manager Bruce Bochy’s office after the team’s 5-0 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night to say hello to the man Peavy played under for his first five major-league five seasons in San Diego.

"I went into the office, admired his elk," Peavy said of the taxidermy mount Bochy has hanging on the wall. "What a redneck, huh?"

Peavy, native of Mobile, Alabama, then grinned and said: "No, but obviously he was in a bit of a solemn mood just because of how the last few games have went. But we look to change that tomorrow."

The veteran right-hander will have that chance as he gets thrown right into the middle of a second-half pennant race and the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, starting the finale of the series Sunday against Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu. Peavy will try to play stopper, as the Giants fell to Clayton Kershaw in a two-hit shutout Saturday, after losing the opener, 8-1.

"You know what, that doesn’t bother me," Peavy said of his baptism by fire. "I’m excited to get here and pitch. That’s what I know.

"I expect to win tomorrow night. I can tell you that. That’s about it."

The latter quote illustrated what Bochy said he admires most about Peavy -- the veteran’s competitive fire. Bochy described Peavy in much the same way he does Hunter Pence -- "all-out and full-bore in anything he does" -- and said he expects that to resonate with the players in the Giants’ clubhouse.

Peavy was already conversing with Matt Cain, whom he’s replacing in the rotation, and Dan Uggla shortly after arriving in San Francisco on Saturday night. He said finding out he’d been traded earlier in the day left him with mixed emotions -- he was close to many of his teammates in Boston, but acknowledged he’s in "a better situation" with the Giants chasing a division title and pennant.

"This is what I showed up to do at the beginning of the year, try to win a World Series," Peavy said. "This team certainly knows how to get that done, with guys who have done that before, and it starts with getting in and trying to win your division. So to be thrown right in the middle of that, as I was last year and in years previous, is exciting for me. I feel blessed for the opportunity."

As general manager Brian Sabean said earlier today, the Giants were spurred to move on Peavy by discouraging news on Cain, whose return at any point this season from elbow inflammation is in question. Peavy is another veteran with a track record -- he won the N.L. Cy Young Award in 2007 and is a three-time All-Star -- though his numbers for the Red Sox this year were less than stellar: 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA and 20 homers allowed in 20 starts.

"We’re excited to have him," Pence said. "I haven’t ever played with him, but playing against him, he seems like a fiery guy, competitor, and that’s exciting to add to the team."

The move also reunites Peavy with Bochy, who was his first big-league manager and, in Peavy’s words, "raised me in the game."

"I was 20 years old, green as any grapes you’ve ever seen on the vine coming from Alabama to the big leagues, and Boch took care of me, taught me how to be a professional, taught me how to get my work done," Peavy said. "A guy I dearly love, so excited as ever to be reunited with him."

Peavy has worn No. 44 throughout his career, but will wear No. 43 with the Giants. No. 44, of course, isn’t an option anymore -- it belonged to Willie McCovey, and now hangs among the retired numbers in the left-field corner at AT&T Park.

"It doesn’t matter," Peavy said. "At the end of the day, you can’t see (your number)."

Then he added: "I think some pretty good guy wore 44 (here), right?"

* Peavy was the big off-the-field news Saturday. On the field, the Giants fell victim once again to Kershaw. In a vintage performance, the left-hander allowed two hits -- singles by Gregor Blanco and Michael Morse -- and a walk while striking out seven Giants in a two-hit shutout. The Giants didn’t get a runner past second base.

Pence summed it up: "He did good and we didn’t hit him good. So he won today."

The Giants haven’t hit much against any of the last four starters they’ve faced. In the last four games, they’ve scored one run against opposing starters in 32 innings. But to be fair those starters’ jerseys read: Burnett, Hamels, Greinke, Kershaw.

"I think you have to give credit to the pitching we’re facing," Bochy said. "That’s four in a row that these guys are really good, throwing hard, good secondary pitches, hitting their spots. With that said, you’ve still got to find some runs."

That’s obviously easier said than done against Kershaw, but the run he is currently on is still remarkable. In his last 10 starts, he is 9-0 with a 0.96 ERA, 95 strikeouts and eight walks in 75 innings. In 11 career games at AT&T Park, Kershaw is 7-2 with a 0.69 ERA, the lowest of any pitcher with at least 50 innings at the stadium by more than a full run.

"You’re talking one of the best," Bochy said. "You hopefully find a way to get on base and put some pressure on him, which we couldn’t."

* This was a quote from losing pitcher Ryan Vogelsong: "At the end of the day, if you don’t give up any runs, you can’t lose."

Vogelsong could have been talking about Kershaw. In fact, he was talking about himself. Vogelsong stood by his locker after the game and shouldered responsibility for the loss, in which he allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits in six innings. He retired the first 11 batters he faced, but allowed nine of the next 16 to reach safely.

"I just stopped making pitches," Vogelsong said. "I can’t put a finger on it right now, I’m going to have to look at some video and stuff tomorrow, but I just stopped making good pitches. That’s really all it was."

Bochy said that Vogelsong has "had some tough luck" recently. Saturday was the fifth of his last six starts in which Vogelsong received no runs of support -- he’s 0-5 in those outings despite having a 3.48 ERA. He was also battling the virus that’s made its way around the Giants’ clubhouse during his last start in Philadelphia, but said he felt normal Saturday night.

The first run he allowed Saturday was also somewhat fluky. Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-out line drive to right field in the fourth that Pence lost in the sun, which was especially bad at that time because of the unusual 6:05 p.m. start. The ball bounced at Pence’s feet and by him for a double, the Dodgers’ first hit, and Gonzalez then scored on a broken-bat single by Hanley Ramirez.

Vogelsong, though, shrugged at the idea he’s been the victim of bad luck.

"We’re not going to start blaming it on that stuff," he said. "I do believe that there’s some luck involved in this game, but at the end of the day I feel like you make your own luck most of the time, and a lot of that comes from making good pitches.

* Andrew Susac made his major-league debut replacing Posey behind the plate in the top of the eighth, and got his first big-league at-bat in the bottom of the inning. He wasted no time against Kershaw, swinging at the first pitch and grounding out to third. Here’s the earlier story about the Giants calling up Susac, the Roseville native and Jesuit High alum.

* Bochy also removed Pablo Sandoval in the eighth, saying that Sandoval’s dealing with a couple of issues. "His back’s a little tight, his leg, he’s pretty beat up," Bochy said. He said Sandoval may rest in Sunday’s series finale, but he’ll wait to make that call until Sandoval arrives at the park before the game.

* It’s another unusual start time Sunday -- 5:07 p.m., as the game is nationally televised on ESPN. That’s a big stage for Peavy’s debut with the Giants, who will try to generate some offense for him against Ryu (11-5, 3.39).


Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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