Peavy stays on target as Giants down Rockies

There were a few moments in Jake Peavy‘s last start in Oakland that might have been disconcerting. The Giants bungled three errors, and could scrounge out only one run in the ugly loss.

Perhaps the scariest image, though, was the sight of Peavy yelling red-faced at his defense moments before exiting for his shortest outing since that mid-May collapse against the Cubs.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Peavy had every right to be peeved, though. He was dealing yet another gem before errors forced him into overdrive. This Fourth of July, Peavy (W, 5-7, 5.04 ERA) showed everyone that his recent success was no fluke, leading the Giants to a clean 3-1 win over the Rockies — and yelling only once during.

Peavy’s been an unheralded hero through the Giants’ surge to 53 wins. He shored up a 1-5, 8.21 ERA start with a 4-2, 2.27 ERA through his last eight starts. This is the real Peavy, he said:

“I just have done all I can do. I understand how the first starts went in early May. I was searching to find some things….I expect what I’ve been doing out of myself.”

Bruce Bochy had a simple explanation for Peavy’s recent success:

“I think more than anything he’s just doing a better job of pitching. Backing off a little bit, changing speeds, hitting his spots…It’s better for him to back off and pitch. He got up there in pitch count but still maintained his stuff, his command.”

Peavy was dominant against the Rockies Monday, throwing a lively fastball with ease.

Put it this way, Nolan Arenado — who was hitting a career .500 with a 1.143 slugging percentage against Peavy — went 1-for-3 with a double Monday.

Said Bochy of Arenado:

“If you go through what his numbers are, he’s a great player. You gotta make pitches, but you look at his defense and the way he swings the bat, he’s  one of the best players in the game. For some reason we do make some mistakes going against him and he doesn’t miss it.”

Arenado is batting .378 with 18 RBI against the Giants this season. Monday, he got limited mistakes, managing only two unrequited doubles. A relative success, said Peavy:

“In the middle of that lineup is a juggernaut… Getting Nolan out a few times, for me, helped that 7-for-14 number out.”

The Rockies, this time, got their run through the road less traveled: The balk.

Ryan Raburn knocked a one-out double in the second and Angel Pagan, who made his first start this season at his old post in center–got a bad read on a Mark Reynolds bloop, which fell in for a single. Nick Hundley worked a walk to load the bases.

Then Peavy did something odd; he attempted to pick Hundley off and ended up sailing a ball to Brandon Belt, who was playing off the bag on the infield grass a good ten feet off the baseline.

Belt snagged the ball, but Peavy was called for the balk. Raburn scored what would be the Rockies’ only run of the day. Peavy struck out Tyler Anderson (L, 0-3, 3.03 ERA) and forced Charlie Blackmon to ground out to end the inning, cursing at himself as he walked off the mound. Peavy still isn’t sure what went wrong:

“I’m confused on the rule. I just thought if I threw the ball to Belt it would be fine.”

Lucky for Peavy, his defense and offense had his back.

The Giants’ bats worked in a very efficient offensive effort. Buster Posey took a 3-1 changeup deep to left field to tie up at 1-1 in the bottom of the second and Angel Pagan made good use of Ruben Tejada‘s base hit — his first at AT&T Park — with a go-ahead dinger to give the Giants’ their 3-1 lead.

Despite Pagan’s misstep, the patchwork defense navigated the windy and sunny Fourth of July weather to hold runners off the bases.

Brandon Crawford continued his All-Star audition-type of performance and Mac Williamson laid out to rob Mark Reynolds of a base hit. Williamson recalled the three-error day in Oakland; the defense wanted to make it up to him:

“It’s great to have his back today and support a really great pitching effort.”

Second baseman Grant Green‘s glove came up clutch in the eighth; With Arenado on second, Trevor Story sent a sharp ground ball up the middle that Green harnessed just in time for the acrobatic out at first.

The bullpen preserved Peavy’s 6-2/3, six strikeout outing — perhaps bolstered by Sergio Romo‘s return.

Romo took over his old eighth inning spot, tasked with facing D.J. LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado in his first appearance on Major League soil since April 10.

LeMahieu grounded out. Arenado doubled. Bochy was pleased:

“I’m pretty sure he was amped up to get back out there. Showed us some good sliders. He’s just got the presence you like in a pen that’s going to help you in those late innings.”

Asked how Romo’s slider looked behind the dish, Posey said:

“It looked normal, so that’s a good sign.”

Arenado’s double off Romo was the only hit the bullpen would allow. Javier Lopez and Josh Osich owned their match-ups; Lopez recorded the final out in the seventh against Blackmon and Osich rolled past Carlos Gonzalez during the eighth-inning Arenado threat.

Santiago Casilla recorded his 20th save, striking out two in a perfect ninth.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.