KANSAS CITY – Jake Peavy is 33 years old and has started 346 games in the major leagues counting the postseason. He’s never started one with as much riding on it as he will tonight.
Peavy will be on the mound for Game Six of the World Series with the San Francisco Giants one win away from a slice of history. If they win this Fall Classic, the Giants will become the first team to win three titles in five years since the New York Yankees swept three straight from 1998 to 2000 – and the first National League team to do three-in-five since the St. Louis Cardinals of the 1940s.
“I can’t imagine anything being sweeter than that,” Peavy said prior to the Giants’ optional workout here Monday night. “That’s what you play for, to be in the World Series and win it. To be the guy that gets the ball with that opportunity, it’s a special opportunity and I understand that.”
Peavy, who gave up four runs here in taking the loss in Game Two, said he’s going to try to treat tonight’s game like any other start. But he knows that’s going to be pretty much impossible.
“You want things to be as normal as they are but at the end of the day, this is the start you play your whole career wanting,” he said. “It’s hard to get away from that fact. This is the opportunity I would hope just about anybody in baseball would want.”
Peavy pitched in the World Series for Boston last year but was just 1-9 with the struggling Sox in 2014 before being traded west. He excelled for the Giants, going 6-4 with 2.17 ERA in 12 starts.
“We wouldn’t be here without him,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “We lost Matt Cain, and we needed some help and he really stepped up and filled that void.”
Peavy said he’s amazed by the Giants’ current run of success that starts with Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean and filters through the core of players.
“When you look at Buster Posey and who he is to this organization, who he is to this team, you have staples like that,” Peavy said. “Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence coming along. You’ve got some incredible character in that room. Incredible character guys who play the game hard, who understand the game and bring guys together.
“That combined with great leadership, you make some good offseason moves and great trade deadline moves, as ‘Sabe’ seems to do every year, you can find yourself in this situation. And they certainly have found a formula that’s worked. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I’m going to try to be a significant part of bringing home the third.”
Teams that return home in a 3-2 deficit in the World Series have rebounded to win the series eight of the last 10 times. That includes the ’85 Royals against St. Louis and the 2011 Cardinals against Texas. The last road team to clinch in Game Six was the 2003 Florida Marlins in Yankee Stadium. The last road team to win Game Seven was the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, over Baltimore.
This is just the second World Series pitting two wild-card teams, and the Giants were also in the other one, their seven-game defeat in 2002 against the then-Anaheim Angels.
That seven-gamer exactly followed the victory pattern of this one thus far: The Giants won the opener on the road, lost Game Two and then dropped Game Three at home before rebounding to win Games Four and Five.
The ’02 Giants won Game Five over the Angels, 16-4, before dropping the final two games in Anaheim. The combined score for this year’s Giants in Games Four and Five? Also 16-4.
There’s little doubt that Madison Bumgarner will be available in relief for the Giants in Game Seven. Bochy even said his ace is likely to tell him he could even pitch tonight in a pinch.
“There are times when he’s taken his bullpen on that day. That’s who he is,” Bochy said. “He’s going to say, ‘Hey, if you need me at any point tomorrow, please use me.’ He’s done that before. He really bounces back well, and we wouldn’t ask him to do a lot, but if I needed to get an out or something, I’m sure he’ll say he’s available.”
The Royals’ biggest struggle in the Giants’ lineup is Pence, who is 9 for 19 in the series and leads all players in hits and average (.474). Were it not for Bumgarner, Pence would be the leading candidate for series MVP.
“He is so funky with his swing,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “His hand-eye coordination is phenomenal. His ability to hit pitches that aren’t strikes is way above average, and he puts the bat head on the ball. He’s tremendously strong. Got really good hands. You sure wouldn’t teach anybody his swing. But this guy, every time he walks up, I’m just hoping that we can get him out and he can go sit down for another eight guys. He’s a threat.”
Both sides again offered their condolences to the St. Louis Cardinals after rookie outfielder Oscar Taveras was killed Sunday in an auto accident in his native Dominican Republic. Taveras, who hit a pinch homer against the Giants in the National League Championship Series, was just 22. Before taking questions on his start tonight, Peavy gave his thoughts on behalf of the Giants.
“That was really hard to hear and with all the jubilation and excitement and joy we were in, it was really tough to hear that news,” Peavy said. “Devastated, obviously. I didn’t know him but we’re a fraternity ... It’s beyond heartbreaking when you don’t even know him.”
“This hurts. This hurts everybody,” Yost said. “A kid this young, for something like this to happen, I think we were all shocked when we heard about it, and we’re still shocked. Then you look back on your club, and what if this happened to one of your young players on your club? You just know what the Cardinals are going through.”