Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who has often voiced his support of a struggling Jake Peavy in this young season, made a strong statement to that effect in the middle of a game Monday night.
With two on, two outs and the Giants trailing the Toronto Blue Jays by three runs in the fifth inning, Bochy emerged from the dugout and jogged to the mound. Peavy had just issued his second walk of the inning and was over 100 pitches. Giants reliever Albert Suarez was warming up. Troy Tulowitzki, who had entered the game with a lifetime .318 average against Peavy, was due up to hit.
After a brief conversation, Bochy left Peavy in the game. Tulowitzki grounded an infield single back up the middle, but with the bases loaded, Peavy got Russell Martin to pop his 112th pitch harmlessly up to second baseman Joe Panik.
The Giants lost, 3-1, stung by the damage the Blue Jays had already done against Peavy and by another ineffectual effort from their offense. Peavy lasted just the five innings, as he fell to 1-4 on the season and his ERA went down – from 9.00 to 8.47. Still, Bochy afterward struck a hopeful tone that the fifth inning Monday was a sign of better things to come for the veteran right-hander.
“That was big for him to finish that inning,” Bochy said. “I think that can do a lot for a pitcher. You go four-plus innings or five. It’s just out of respect to Jake to (allow him a chance) to get out of that inning, and he did a good job of it.”
Peavy said Bochy’s of decision: “It meant the world to me.”
Overall, it was another laborious outing for Peavy. He allowed five hits and five walks in five innings, the latter driving up his pitch count with Toronto’s hitters repeatedly fouling off pitches to extend at-bats. Facing a lineup that featured the reigning A.L. MVP (Josh Donaldson) batting second and a $100 million-plus player (Tulowitzki) hitting sixth, Peavy opted to be just as stubborn.
“I just wasn’t going to give in at any point in time,” he said. “Certainly my command is a touch off. But tonight was overall a lot like the first couple innings in New York, and some of the innings where I settled down in Cincinnati. Just gotta find a way to do a little bit more.”
As an example, Peavy pointed to the two-run home run hit by Edwin Encarnacion in the third inning, which gave the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead. It came on a full-count fastball in the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Peavy said he threw the same pitch, located better, to strike out Encarnacion when he came up again two innings later.
“There’s some positives to take from it,” Peavy said, “knowing that I made good pitches to good hitters deep in the pitch count.”
The Giants did little offensively to support Peavy, with their run coming on Hunter Pence’s groundout with runners on second and third in the sixth.
Brandon Crawford flied out to end the inning and strand Brandon Belt on third. The Giants went hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, scrapping together four hits against hard-throwing Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez and two relievers. In the past three games, they’ve totaled three runs in 31 innings.
“You always tip your cap to a well-pitched game, and that was,” Bochy said. “But I will say we’ve got some guys that are not on top of their game as far as timing.
“You’ve got to beat good pitching and we’ve got a lineup that I think can do that. We’ve got some guys that are trying to get it going offensively. They’ll find it.”