Grinding less brings more success to Peavy

Grinding less brings more success to Peavy

PHOENIX -- Every time the masses begin to wonder, even he begins to wonder, how much Jake Peavy has left, there's a revival of sorts. Saturday's 5-3 Giants victory was one of those games.

The veteran right-hander pitched in and out of the strike zone, never cracking 90 miles per hour. The result was six innings of one-run, three-hit ball against the D-backs at Chase Field that gave the Giants a chance to win.

They did just that in the ninth inning when Buster Posey clobbered a ground-rule double that bounced into the pool area with two out and the bases loaded.

The smash plated two runs, giving the Giants their third win in a row in a four-game series that ends Sunday.

"He didn't put as much effort into it and just had a smooth delivery going the whole game," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who had Peavy when he was a rookie when the two were with the Padres in 2002. "He didn't grind so hard. The old 'less is more.' He was sick last night and that might have helped him."

Peavy said he had stomach flu Friday night and wasn't able to eat anything heading into his start Saturday. That might have been part of it. But more so was the recognition that something had to change after he allowed 16 runs on 17 hits in 13 innings in his last three starts, all losses.

Peavy has always been a max-effort guy. But he's 34 years old now and not the 26-year-old who threw 98 mph in 2007 when he won the National League pitching triple crown with 19 wins, 240 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA, plus that year's Cy Young Award.

Now he can't throw anymore; he has to pitch.

"[The stomach problems] started about midnight, which is always fun on the day you're going to pitch," Peavy said. "But that didn't affect me in any way. I was just able to execute a little better today and stay in control. I pulled back today. It was almost polar opposite starts, if you watched my last one."

In that last one Monday at home against the Blue Jays, Peavy walked five, allowed five hits and three runs, threw 112 pitches and lasted five innings. On Saturday, he threw an economical 94 pitches, only two of them as hard as 89 mph, a number of breaking pitches in the 70s.

"I mean, the last game it was like 100 percent effort on every pitch," Bochy said. "It's good that you have that focus, but it's probably just a little bit too much effort."

To his point, with a runner on second and two out in the fourth, Peavy tossed a third-strike fastball that Nick Ahmed swung through and seemed to have some pop. It was an 88 mph pitch.

Equally, after Rickie Weeks Jr. doubled with one out in the sixth, Peavy got Chris Herrmann to wave at an 84 mph third-strike cutter that dipped out of the zone.

Less is definitely more. The last time Peavy allowed one run on three hits was last Sept. 28 against the Dodgers when he lasted seven innings.

"I thought he did a nice job throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate tonight," said Posey, Peavy's catcher. "It's as good as I've seen him all year, locating in and out."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.