ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jake Peavy accepts that he won’t be the pitcher he was for at least a couple of months, and maybe not until next season.
At perhaps 80 percent of what he once was, Peavy was pretty good in his season debut on Wednesday night, a 6-4 White Sox win in 10 innings against the Los Angeles Angels.
Pitching in a major-league game for the first time since he tore the lat pitching against the Angels at U.S. Cellular Field last July, Peavy gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings. He didn’t walk a batter and he struck out four.
“Tonight’s game could have been a run or two,” Peavy said. “I felt like I could have pitched deeper – 87 pitches or so – I felt strong and certainly didn’t want to come out of the game I asked to stay in , I felt strong and was getting people out. … of course I wanted to stay in the game.”
A string of nine consecutive outs, velocity in the low 90s, good movement and throwing 60 of his 87 pitches for strikes were encouraging signs. If Sox hitters hadn’t left 10 men on base while he was in the game and had they chipped in a little more defensively, Peavy may have had a chance to win.
To recover fully from surgery to re-attach a torn lat muscle, doctors told him to be patient — it will take 12-18 months.
“I’m about 80 percent of what I was when I was in San Diego,” said Peavy, who won a Cy Young Award with the Padres in 2007.
Peavy’s much-anticipated start was almost forgotten after the Sox rallied with two runs in the ninth to tie and won it with two in the 10th.
“I can’t say I was surprised [with how I pitched],” Peavy said. “I felt the way I expected. The game, you try to play it out in your mind and want it to go smoother than it went but I could reverse a few plays and you give up a run or two. If that was the case I could have gone longer and it would have been a real nice start.
“I let some balls go. I’m not holding back. Ten months out of surgery it is what it is.”
The win gave the Sox (15-23) two in three games in Anaheim after they won two of three in Seattle. They’ve won four of their last five.
Adam Dunn was 4-for-6 with his fourth home run, a double and two runs scored. A.J. Pierzynski was 4-for-6 with a double and an RBI. Sergio Santos (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings and has not allowed a run in 16 innings this season. Matt Thornton got his first save with a perfect 10th and finished the game by making a putout at first after Paul Konerko fielded Torii Hunter’s bunt and flipped the ball to Thornton covering first. Thornton caught in bare handed on the run and barely beat Hunter to first.
“I knew he was going to try to get the ball to me somehow, some way and I was looking for it in the vicinity where I could keep on running and catch it,” Thornton said. “It happened to be barehanded to make it a little prettier but I’m just looking for the ball, trying to grab it and get to the bag. I didn’t have time to adjust to get out of the way. Torii stepped on my foot. I was just trying to get there as soon as possible.”
The Sox would have won it in nine if they hadn’t left 15 runners on base. Then they got help from Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen, who allowed Alexei Ramirez to score the tiebreaking run from third base on a wild pitch during an intentional walk in the 10th inning.
Dunn scored on Brent Lillibridge’s sacrifice fly moments after Jepsen (0-2) uncorked the first pitch of the intentional walk to Konerko over catcher Hank Conger.
“We needed that,” Guillen said. “Early in the game, we left a lot of people on base. We got a few opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of, but late in the game, we got some big hits. The energy in the dugout was great, especially the last three innings.”
Omar Vizquel, who entered to play third base when Mark Teahen left with a strained right oblique, doubled in a run in the eighth to make it 4-2. Vizquel and Pierre looked like they had a double steal pulled off but Ramirez was called for interfering with Conger to end the eighth.
Pierzynski singled in a run in the ninth and Vizquel hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth to force extra innings.
“It’s a big win when you come from behind,” Vizquel said. “Obviously they made a couple of mistakes. The big thing is that everybody was a part of it.”
Starting with Peavy.
“I’m excited as could be to compete with the boys and that the Chicago White Sox won tonight but I can’t get excited about six innings and four runs. That ain’t me.”