By Matt Spiegel-
Jake Peavy’s final appearance stands as an emblem of his time on the White Sox.
It stands as an emblem of the healthy times, anyway.
Peavy was great Tuesday night, truly at the top of his capable form in this incarnation. He dominated through eight innings, allowing just one hit on 104 pitches, and facing only one over the minimum. Dayan Viciedo’s home run in the top of the inning gave the Sox a lead.
Out came Peavy to start the ninth, going for that impressive, toughness justifying complete game. Robin Ventura said he’d earned the right to try and finish what he started.
How many times have we seen Peavy talk his way into one inning too many? After a runner reached base, a string of lefties stood in his way, with Donnie Veal ready to go in the pen.
How many times have we seen Peavy be allowed to stay for just one batter too many? Travis Hafner’s home run was reminiscent of so many late Peavy fades.
The man is an absolute bulldog, to a fault. I love his mentality, and appreciate his desire to be the ace, the stopper, the finisher. But he doesn’t have the stuff or stamina he once did, and both Ventura and Ozzie Guillen have too often allowed him to dictate his tolerance.
Peavy had a very good season, starting 32 games and giving his team a chance to win (4 ER or less) in all but five of them. He also was a notorious victim of low run support, as the Sox scored four runs or fewer in 21 of those starts. A better offense would have allowed more cushion in last night’s ninth.
I bet Peavy gets a three-year deal at around $10 million per, probably from a National League team. Whoever that new manager is needs to understand; Jake cannot set his own rules on when he’s done with a game. He’s the kid who just keeps downing pancakes at breakfast, only to realize he’s full and belly aching when he gets up.
And eventually, as I’ve said for years, Peavy could be a dominant closer.
Miguel Cabrera needs to play today.
When a record or accomplishment of this magnitude is in play, there’s the honorable way to approach it, and the coward’s way. Call these approaches the Ted Williams or the Jose Reyes.
In 1941, Williams reached the season’s final day with a batting average of .3995, which would have rounded up to a historic .400. Manager Joe Cronin offered the bench for the day’s doubleheader, to assure history. Williams said he didn’t deserve .400 if he sat out, went 6-for-8 and hit .406. By the way, the sacrifice fly rule was not in effect then; if it were, Williams would have hit .416.
Last year, Jose Reyes led Ryan Braun by a few points in the batting race on the season’s final day. Reyes led off his game with a bunt single, and was immediately pinch run for by manager Terry Collins. Braun played his whole finale, went 0-for-4, and lost the batting crown to Reyes by five points.
It was pathetic, and cheapened the accomplishment. No amount of conflicted crying by Collins after the game changed that. He allowed his player to take advantage of the manager, and make a mockery of the feat.
Cabrera won’t be caught in the batting race unless he goes 0-for-5, and Mike Trout goes 5-5. But that chance exists. Play a few innings at least, get a few at bats, and don’t try to back in on a day that should be filled with praise.
There will still be plenty of rest between now and the playoffs for the Tigers; he’ll still have two full days off until their series begins on Saturday.
Do the right thing, Miggy. No one wants to see Jim Leyland cry.
Matt Spiegel is the co-host of The McNeil and Spiegel Show, heard Monday-Friday from 9am-1pm on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MattSpiegel670.