Tuesday night’s Game 4 (8:37, TBS) is the exact reason why the Red Sox traded for starter Jake Peavy at the July 31 trading deadline just over two months ago. With three quality starters, the Sox traded for the veteran right-hander not only to fill in for the injured Clay Buchholz, but also to pitch in big games in October.
Following Monday’s tough ninth inning walk-off, 5-4 loss to the Rays, the Red Sox will try and close out the Rays for a second straight night and avoid going back to Boston for a potential Game 5 on Thursday.
“We have a good game plan going into (Tuesday) night,” Peavy told reporters Monday. “They know what I'll be trying to do and I'll know what they're trying to do. These games, it just comes down to executing, and throwing the ball where it's supposed to be thrown and defending the way we should defend and finding a way to scratch a few off (Jeremy) Hellickson, if that gets to it.”
The Rays will counter with Hellickson, who is 12-10 with a 5.17 ERA this season and has struggled of late. The right-hander has lost seven of his last nine decisions dating back to July 31. Against the Red Sox this year he is 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA in three starts, but only one of those starts came after June 19.
Although he is new to the AL East, Peavy has pitched at Tropicana Field three times and has a 3.93 ERA in 18 1/3 innings. The one issue Peavy might run into is he hasn’t pitched in 12 days besides an intrasquad team scrimmage last Wednesday at Fenway Park. The 32-year-old doesn’t seem too concerned.
“If you guys saw the simulated game, I don't know if you're able to watch that, I took that about as serious as I could take it and felt like I got some good work in,” he said. “I treated that as much like a game as I could possibly do. You could throw all the bullpens in the world, you can play catch and do those types of things, but you have to simulate getting out there and going full speed.”
Coming into the postseason the main concern with the Red Sox was their bullpen, especially middle relief, and those concerns became realities Monday night when the bullpen struggled, combining to allow two runs in 2 2/3 innings, cultivating with closer Koji Uehara allowing a walk-off homer to Jose Lobaton. They, and especially Uehara, will need to rebound quickly as certainly they will likely be needed Tuesday night.
The one thing the Sox do have going for them is their closeness as a team, as they seemingly always stick together and never let things get to them.
“I've never been around a group of guys who truly have one goal and it's been that same — it's been that goal and it's been talked about since the day I arrived,” Peavy said. “We're going to win the World Series and do everything we can possibly do to make that happen.
“You hear guys talk about trying to make a reality, a goal reality, but when you watch the unselfishness, when you watch the way that these guys are able to put everything aside and get prepared to play and really sell out on all facets of the game and even outside the game, to make that a reality, it's something special. I'm so glad to be a part of it.”
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84