In just his second start after joining the Giants, right-hander Jake Peavy took a perfect game into the seventh inning Aug. 2 in New York – only to come away with a loss when the Mets scored four times off of him in the seventh.
Peavy was not perfect as he strode to the mound to begin the seventh Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers, but he had yet to allow a hit. And after shortstop Brandon Crawford dove to stop Scooter Gennett’s shot up the middle and start an inning-ending double play, the announced crowd of 41,397 at AT&T Park lingered on its feet a bit longer than normal.
It was the longest no-hit bid of Peavy’s career – and it ended with one out in the eighth, when Mark Reynolds hit a broken-bat flare to right field for a single. Peavy then struck out Jean Segura for his final batter in the Giants’ 3-1 win and shared a quick word with his infielders before leaving the mound to a loud ovation and chants of “Pea-vy,” which he acknowledged with a tip of his cap.
“I just told them, ‘Great job,’ and encouraged them to finish this out,” Peavy said. “We still had four outs to get.”
Sergio Romo struck out Carlos Gomez with two on to end the eighth and secure Peavy’s longest scoreless outing – 7 2/3 innings – since a complete-game shutout April 23, 2012. Santiago Casilla allowed an RBI single by Ryan Braun in the ninth, but recorded the final three outs as the Giants captured a series against a winning team for the first time since taking three of four from St. Louis from May 29-June 1.
“It feels like playoff baseball kind of right now,” Crawford said after the Giants pulled to within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Dodgers for the first time since Aug. 6. “We’re playing well against a good team and our pitchers are pitching their butts off.”
Starting pitching has been the star of the homestand, on which the Giants are now 5-1. In six games, Giants starters have a 1.01 ERA in 44 2/3 innings with 50 strikeouts and six walks. Madison Bumgarner last week took a perfect game into the eighth, and Thursday, Yusmeiro Petit set a major-league record by retiring his 46th consecutive batter.
Saturday, Peavy allowed only three walks and a hit batter through seven innings, but said he hadn’t really allowed himself to consider the possibility of a no-hitter before Reynolds broke it up. “I’d walked a couple (of) guys and had to make pitches with guys on, where one swing of the bat ties the game,” Peavy said. “I really didn’t think much about it.”
Meaningful August games were not in Peavy’s future when he was 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts this season with the last-place Red Sox. Despite those numbers, the Giants saw fit to trade for Peavy when it became clear Matt Cain would miss significant time due to injury. In seven starts with the Giants, Peavy is 3-4 with a 2.66 ERA.
“He was throwing the ball well and his record was not indicative of how he was throwing the ball,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “The stuff was there, we know and I know personally how competitive this guy is. So that was a no-brainer for us, to get him.”
Asked what made Peavy unhittable for seven innings Saturday, Bochy said Peavy was “hitting spots (and) had a good game plan and was executing,” while adding, “and the defense.” Crawford took a hit away from Aramis Ramirez on a backhand play in the hole in the fifth inning, then started the highlight-reel double play in the seventh by diving to glove Gennett’s grounder and glove-flipping the ball to second baseman Joe Panik.
“The backhand, I didn’t know he had a no-hitter, I was just trying to make the play,” Crawford said. “The double play, I knew, so I was a little more fired up after that one.”
As was Peavy, who yelled and gestured at Crawford as the Giants left the field. “Both of those plays were tremendous,” said Peavy, who also hit a career milestone Saturday with his 2,000th career strikeouts. “That’s who we’ve got to be as a team. I think we’re starting to find some identity and understand we’re going to have to play on all sides of the ball.”
Crawford also contributed with the bat, lining an RBI single to right in the Giants’ three-run fourth. It came two batters after Michael Morse hit a one-hop double off the wall in center field off Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers that scored both Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence. Pence, who had been on first base, slid home right on Sandoval’s heels.