TORONTO — Major league scouts at Rogers Centre were seeing what they usually see from Jake Peavy — a gritty kind of performance with not much flash or power — a couple of mistakes around some good moments when he showed grit, determination, and vulnerability.
He had allowed the Blue Jays one run over five innings Tuesday night until he became unglued and allowed homers to Jose Reyes and Dioner Navarro to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 4-0 hole and an eventual 7-3 Toronto win.
Almost in precision time, Peavy struggled after two plate appearances on a batter. He entered the game with hitters batting .250 the second time around and .291 the third time through. From the seventh inning on, batters were hitting .333 against him.
In the sixth inning, in their third plate appearances, Reyes homered to right on a 2-2 count and Melky Cabrera followed with a ground-rule double. Jose Bautista hit a long fly to right, advancing Cabrera to third and Navarro homered.
This was the worst of his last four starts.
The home run ball ate him up again, and you wonder what scouts were contemplating as they watched it unfold.
The Cardinals have had him in their peripheral vision for a few weeks. The Giants now appear to have joined the mix with Matt Cain on the disabled list with elbow issues.
Every time he pitches, teams watch with interest. The Red Sox would want to move him so they can permanantly place Rubby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman in the rotation.
“I certainly understand the situation,’’ Peavy said. “When I’m here I’m all here. Tomorrow I’ll get my work done and get ready for my next start. I’m aware of it and am kept abreast through my representation. We’ll see how that plays out. I didn’t think of it today. I think about the results.’’
Peavy, making his 20th start, dropped to 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA, lasting 6⅓ innings, allowing eight hits, five runs, and fanning seven.
He would be one of the cheaper pitchers on the market in terms of acquisition cost, with the Red Sox likely chipping in to defray some of the remaining $6 million on his salary.
One important thing: Peavy is healthy.
“I feel fine. I’m healthy. I have a lot of baseball left in me,’’ he said. “If I’m here I’m gonna figure out a win, I’ll promise you that. If I’m somewhere else I’ll give it everything I have. I hope that’s here.’’
He’s far from David Price/Cole Hamels dominating, but Peavy, a former National League Cy Young Award winner, brings you a grizzled veteran who has been through pennant races and postseasons.
That’s what he brought to the Red Sox last July 31.
A year ago, the Red Sox had to part with Jose Iglesias in a three-team deal with the Tigers to acquire Peavy from the White Sox.
A year later, it doesn’t appear the Red Sox could make that deal in reverse. But they will try to get something of value for him. After all, starting pitching is a hard to acquire. It has to hurt to obtain a veteran starter and the Red Sox need to make the Cardinals or Giants hurt giving up a player they don’t want to in order to get a deal done.
When Bill Parcells said you are what your record says you are, that may not apply to Peavy.
The numbers were both good and bad, but they shouldn’t be 1-9 bad.
Peavy has gone 15 consecutive starts without a win, tying him with Jeff Sellers and one behind Matt Young and Jim Lonborg for the Red Sox record for most consecutive starts without a win.
During the winless streak, Peavy has a 5.21 ERA and has given up 15 homers. His 1.411 WHIP is the highest of his career since his 2002 rookie season when it was 1.423.
This is what you’re getting if you deal for him:
His 4.72 ERA ranked 84th among 94 qualified pitchers this season. His WHIP ranked 83d. His .270 batting average against ranked 79th. His .466 slugging against ranked 88th. His 20 homers allowed is tops in the American League. Fourteen homers have been against lefties, and 12 have come on the road.
Entering Tuesday night, batters were pounding his fastball: .304 with 13 homers.
His fastball averaged 89.7 miles per hour. His second favorite pitch — a cutter — averaged 86.4 and his third is his change, which averaged 82.6. Not a whole lot of separation.
His strength had been facing runners in scoring position, holding batters to a .208 average, 20th in the majors.
That’s when Peavy seems to get his back up and minimizes damage. You could see that in the second inning Tuesday night when he allowed a leadoff double to cleanup hitter Navarro, then struck out Colby Rasmus, Juan Francisco, and Munenori Kawasaki swinging.
Twelve of Peavy’s 20 games have been quality starts. He’s pitched seven innings three times and eight innings once this season.
That’s your statistical primer on Peavy.
But for the most part, throw the stats out the window.
For teams looking to deal for him, it’s all about what’s happened lately. They need to know the guy they’re acquiring can keep their team in a game. They need to know they can depend on a quality start.
Peavy seems close to checking all of the above boxes.
He also could be heading back to the NL, where he went 92-68 (.575) for the Padres, including a Cy Young in 2007. Maybe that’s not the guy you’re getting, but the chances are he would pitch even better back in the NL against less potent lineups.
Teams always look for middle of the road solutions before they succumb to giving up top prospects for the upper-echelon pitchers. Both the Cardinals and Giants have upper-echelon guys in their starting rotations.
Teams need not only dependability this time of year, they need guts. Peavy has guts.
It will be interesting to see what the scouts’ reactions will be when they file their reports with their respective GMs. Was Tuesday night a deal breaker? Or was it good enough to accelerate a deal?Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.