September 28, 2012
Is that all there is?
Jake Peavy, the guy who was going to play the role of Jose Contreras on the next great White Sox team, may have pitched his last game at U.S. Cellular Field in a home uniform.
It was a big game, maybe the biggest of the season, as the fading White Sox tried to stay within one game of the Tigers in the American League Central. Hector Santiago had failed to pay dividends on Wednesday, and now it was Peavy's turn to restore order.
"He's the guy you'd like to have there, a guy with his experience, (his) stuff,'' Robin Ventura said. "It's a good spot for us to have him in there.''
A good spot? This was exactly the spot that Ken Williams had pictured Peavy in.
That's why the Sox general manager sent Clayton Richard and three other pitchers to the Padres for him at the trade deadline in 2009, after the Cubs' money men (Sam Zell and Crane Kenney) had blocked a Jim Hendry trade that would have made Peavy a Cub. But this was the surgically repaired Peavy on the mound, not the young buck who won the National League Cy Young. Who knew if he would be up to it?
Peavy did his part, but it didn't matter. The White Sox could not break out of their offensive fog, not even with the help of four walks and two hit batters from Rays starter James Shields.
A.J. Pierzynski chased three pitches in the dirt to strike out with the bases loaded. Paul Konerko hit into a bases-loaded double play and, in the eighth, after he was inserted as a pinch runner, Jordan Danks failed to re-touch second base when he was running on Alexei Ramirez's flyout to center field.
It was a whole bowl full of bad, which added up to a 3-2 Rays victory, their eighth in a row as they joined the White Sox in being two games out of a playoff spot.
While Peavy was working with an extra day's rest, his fastball was its usual 91-92. He threw a lot of strikes from his perch on the left edge of the rubber, and avoided major damage from the four hits he allowed. The Rays took leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against him, with the big hits a Ben Zobrist double off the bottom of the right-field wall in the fourth and a Luke Scott blast into the right-field seats in the fifth.
He left after 117 pitches with the score tied 2-2 with one out in the eighth, then watched along with the restless crowd as the White Sox had no answer for Evan Longoria's ninth-inning homer off Brett Myers.
The White Sox are going to have a decision to make on the 31-year-old Peavy after the season. There's no way they will exercise the $22 million option on his contract but I think they will see if they can find a way to keep him.
If Peavy would sign for something like $30 million over three years, it would make sense to keep him and decline the option in Gavin Floyd's contract. But a lack of quality arms in this free-agent class could play into Peavy's favor, driving the price up to a point where Peavy walks.
If the White Sox miss the playoffs and this turns out to be his last start at U.S. Cellular, they would have paid him about $56 million to give them fewer victories and innings than Richard has delivered to the Padres for less than $4 million.
Williams knew he was taking a big risk when he traded for Peavy, who was on the disabled list with an ankle injury at the time. It was a bold move, the kind that has characterized his 12 years as general manager.
If it is to pay off, the White Sox will have to write a magical ending to this season. The team that seems more likely to do that is the one in the visiting clubhouse, the one with homegrown aces.
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