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Saturday, April 26, 2014
Peavy's curve freezes Bautista, ices Jays

By Gordon Edes

TORONTO -- This won't take long, we promise. A few minutes of your time, at most.

But listen to how a good ol' boy from Alabama demonstrated his Ph.D. in pitching, and the genius behind Jake Peavy dropping a 3-and-2 curveball on Jose Bautista in the sixth inning Friday night.

Jake Peavy
Jake Peavy improved to 1-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.87 with Friday's win over Toronto.
The Red Sox led 7-0 at the time, but for the first time all night, the Blue Jays were stirring, a one-out double by Jose Reyes and a single by Melky Cabrera giving Toronto runners on the corners and strongmen Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion coming to the plate. Bautista had doubled in his previous at-bat, came into the game with six home runs, and in the last four seasons has 21 home runs against the Sox.

A dangerous customer, and Peavy approached him that way. He threw Bautista a two-seamer for a called strike, then got Bautista to swing and miss at a changeup. Peavy then missed with the next three pitches -- a two-seamer that knocked him off his feet, a changeup, a cutter well off the plate -- to run the count full.

A walk loads the bases. A pitch that catches too much of the plate, Bautista has a chance to put one in the seats, and the Sox have a game on their hands.

Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who has worked with Peavy since they both played for the White Sox, put down a sign. Peavy shook it off. Another sign. Shook him off again.

"It took a little bit for us to get to it," Peavy said. "That made me a little concerned, that he might start thinking, what are we going to throw him?

"But it was in my mind that when we got ahead of him 0-2, I wanted to throw the ball back in, and knock him off his feet, just to get him hesitant that this guy might let one get away. As pitchers, that's all we got. Guys get too comfortable in the box. Got to let them know. I think that pitch served its purpose, and allowed us to make that last pitch."

Pierzynski then put down the fingers for a curveball. Game on.

And here's the deep thinking behind the pitch. Peavy had not thrown Bautista a curveball all night. He hadn't thrown a curveball to a right-handed hitter all night. There was no way Bautista would have been looking for a curveball there.

"That's not an easy pitch to throw," Peavy said, "especially where I hadn't thrown it all night long. It's a whole different setup involved, and you want to throw it middle in, and not at him."

Peavy was asked if Bautista would have been able to reach into his memory bank and summon a previous occasion where Peavy went after him with a full-count curveball.

"No, I don't think so," he said.

Peavy delivered the pitch, the ball broke blouse high, right on the inner black. Bautista did not offer at it, and without a word to plate umpire Rob Drake, headed back to the Blue Jays' dugout. Moments later, Peavy induced Encarnacion to chase a cutter. Back-to-back K's. Inning over. So, for all intents and purposes, was the game.

"Every starter realizes, there's a few moments in a game where you say, 'Hey this is the game, you better lock it in and nail this one down,' " Peavy said.

Consider it nailed.