DETROIT – Three years ago, Barry Zito came back to pitch after a rain delay of nearly three hours with the Giants leading 6-0 in the third inning at Comerica Park. He surprised everyone by completing six innings with no earned runs.
On Friday, Jake Peavy came back to pitch after a rain delay of nearly three hours with the Giants leading 6-0 in the third inning at Comerica Park. He surprised everyone by completing six innings with no earned runs.
The circumstances were remarkable. But they were not across-the-board identical.
Zito said he listened to Mac Miller on his headphones. Peavy was listening to a Christian rock group called NEEDTOBREATHE.
Both times, the goal was to play music everyone could hear and enjoy in a victorious postgame clubhouse. So on that score, the two games echoed each other in the most important way. The Giants collected double-digit hits for the seventh consecutive game, their big lead wasn’t washed away and Peavy saved the bullpen while earning admiration from all in an 8-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
“We need to win and I felt the first few innings, the game plan was working,” said Peavy, who has a 2.36 ERA in eight starts as a Giant, has allowed one earned run over his last three outings and has won four of five after going 0-12 in a string of 18 assignments.
“I’m an energy guy as it is. I try to bring as much positive energy as I can. For us to be thrust in the pennant race, I couldn’t be more excited to be here and pull my weight.”
It was too much weight to hold back.
“He was adamant he was good to go, and I think it would have crushed him not to go back out there,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who considered the fact that Peavy will get an extra day before his next start.
The past experience with Zito, who had been pitching on three days of rest to boot in that July 2, 2011 game here, also factored into the decision to let Peavy continue.
“We were talking about that,” Bochy said. “Rags and I were saying, `This is the Zito game,’ and Peavy did the same thing. … Zito was fine and he did a great job. They both are experienced pitchers and they’re both honest. Jake, I don’t know if I trust him quite as much. But he said, `I’ll let you know if I feel anything.’ He was pacing, keeping loose.”
Peavy recorded all three of his strikeouts after the layoff, which lasted 2 hours and 52 minutes between his last pitch of the third and first pitch in the fourth. The actual delay was 2 hours, 42 minutes. When Zito did it, the delay was a near identical 2 hours, 36 minutes.
Joe Panik started a key double play after the first two batters singled in the fourth, allowing George Kontos to sit back down in the bullpen. The Tigers did score twice off Peavy in the fifth, but both runs were unearned after Gregor Blanco lost a line drive in the lights after a long run for an error.
Peavy said he spent a lot of time in the trainer’s room during the delay.
“I can’t say enough about the training staff,” he said. “You have to have help and this staff is unbelievable. (The coaches) let me go out as well so I appreciate that.”
Before the Giants could make the decision to send Peavy back out there, crew chief Mike Winters had to make the call to restart the game. The thunderstorm that arrived just prior to the fourth inning was so violent that the Tigers’ head groundskeeper, Heather Nabozny, twisted her right knee and collapsed in apparent pain while trying to walk it off. She had to be carried off the field, but not before spending several minutes on the grass in the driving rain, calling out instructions and keeping hold of the tarp as it was deployed amid fierce winds.
Dedication to the job. Peavy wasn't the only one who displayed that Friday night.
No, the Giants wouldn’t be victimized by another tarp malfunction like the one two weeks ago at Wrigley Field that led to an unplayable field and the first upheld protest in 28 years. But when the rain subsided and a window presented itself, there was no progress made to restart the game. Winters was operating on radar information that another band of storms was on its way.
With the Giants up 6-0 and six outs from making it a regulation game, it was a maddening situation for Bochy. If they hadn’t restarted Friday night, the results – all nine batters in the Giants lineup had a hit by the third inninig -- would have been erased along with their lead and the game would have been replayed from the beginning.
On one of several trips onto the field, Bochy appeared to bark at the Tigers’ stadium operations chief.
“At some point you quit looking at the radar and look up at the sky,” Bochy said. “It’s probably human nature for any manager. You have a lead and you want to get back out there.”
Said Peavy: “Oh, I was aggravated we weren’t playing.”
When they finally resumed, Peavy gave them three more innings, Pablo Sandoval hit yet another home run against the Tigers, Tim Lincecum might have set himself right with a relief inning and Gregor Blanco’s triple, double and two runs scored before the delay all counted. So did Hunter Pence's single, which extended his hit streak to 17 games.
And everyone in the visiting clubhouse gained a little more respect for the pitcher who kept his body loose and his headphones on for nearly three hours.
“Oh, that was amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Blanco, who joined the Giants in 2012. “That man, he’s a fighter. He just wants to win and compete and I really appreciate that.”