ST. LOUIS -- If the Red Sox are going to surge ahead in the 2013 World Series, they'll need a much better starting pitching effort from Jake Peavy than the one Peavy provided in his last post-season start.
A lot better.
Peavy was horrid in his Game 4 ALCS start, walking three batters in the second inning -- including one with the bases loaded -- and failing to record an out in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers.
No one knows more than Peavy that improvement is imperative in his first ever World Series start.
"Everything is fixed, fixable,'' said Peavy, who will pitch opposite Joe Kelly of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the World Series Saturday night. "It wasn't too much to read into it, really. People want to make it (a big deal, but it's) just a small, small adjustment that can make all the difference in the world. And there's absolutely no excuses tomorrow night. This is what I've lived for my whole life, my whole baseball career, I should say, to have this opportunity to go out there on the biggest stage and have a chance to help your team win a World Series game and a World Series title.
"I'm as prepared as I'll ever be, physically, mentally, and we'll go out there (Saturday) night and see if we can execute pitch by pitch, and find a way to win.''
Late in the season, Peavy experimented with adjusting his arm slot in his delivery in an effort to better command his pitches and get better finish to the. But in the ALCS Game 4 start in Comerica, he seemed to have difficulty repeating his delivery, leading to some command problems.
"It is a little bit different making adjustments with the arm a little bit lower,'' he said. "Just because I haven't been doing it as long as I would like. But at the same time, the upside that we do have from getting that is something that we're all comfortable with. And I'm plenty enough comfortable to go out and execute pitches and be able to make adjustments. It just comes with knowing.''
Whenever he's on the mound, pitching well or not, Peavy is an emotional sort. He can be heard shouting reminders to himself -- sometimes, laced with profanities -- or exhorting himself to focus better.
But Peavy denied that his poor performance was the result of being too amped up for such an important outing.
"Obviously I'm an emotional guy,'' he said, "but at the same time I'm 13 years into this, I'm excited as I ever will be for a start to go out there (Saturday). But there's not going to be a situation that I get overwhelmed in and get too emotional and let the emotions of the moment beat me up. I just feel like I've been in enough situations over the years that there's nothing tomorrow night that's going to rattle me or get in my head, or it doesn't matter how loud the crowd is.
"It doesn't matter how bad things are going, it comes down to trying to execute pitches and be able to make tiny adjustments that make the biggest -- it takes getting some balls hit at people, and some guys making some plays and just getting in the rhythm of the game. Like I said, I think we all expect that to happen (Saturday) night.''
Manager John Farrell has had Peavy for just three months, but he's come to understand what makes him tick and believes the veteran channels his emotional properly.
"It's how he continues to maintain a level of competitiveness to not slack off or to ask more of himself,'' said Farrell. "The one thing I think he's done a very good job at the last probably three or four starts is creating an energy level in his delivery that doesn't take away from locating pitches.''
To the contrary, Farrell has reason to believe that part of what fell apart for Peavy against the Tigers was not being as invested in himself as he should have been.
"Inning No. 2 in Detroit,'' said Farrell, "I thought he started to pitch a little too fine and maybe didn't trust his stuff enough, as was the case in the first inning. Game 4 against Tampa (in the Division Series), you know, I think he's understanding himself and what that level of energy in his delivery works best for him.''
Either way, there's no overstating what's at stake for Peavy, who's been a front-line starter and a former Cy Young Award winner in his career, but has never before had this opportunity in front of him.
"Let's not sugarcoat anything,'' Peavy said. "This is the biggest game up until this point in time that I've ever pitched. We'd be silly to sit here and say otherwise. I've never been to this. This is why I play the game. This is why we all, I would like to think, play the game, is to be a world champion, is to be the best in the world at what you do at the highest level.''
"And so to go out in a World Series game and have a chance to sway the odds, the favor, in our direction, on the road, with a team that's got some momentum with a big win at our place, of course. I think this is the biggest start in my career. That being said, that doesn't change anything for me. It doesn't -- I mean obviously you feel a little bit different, but once you get in the swing of the game tomorrow night, it will be another game and we'll get in the feel of it, just a little more intensity, a little more adrenaline from the fans and a little more hype around it. But, yeah, this is the biggest game I've pitched.''