Peavy suffers another tough-luck loss

HOUSTON -- That booming sound out of Houston was Jake Peavy's trade value shooting through the enclosed roof at Minute Maid Park.

In the 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon, Peavy lost his eighth straight decision, but there was a sense in the postgame clubhouse that the offense let him down again.

His name has been attached to every trade rumor mill in recent weeks. Teams have sent scouts to his last few starts. They all want to know the same thing the Red Sox wanted to know less than a year ago when they traded for him from the Chicago White Sox -- how much does he have left in the tank and can he make us a stronger contender?

Peavy answered those questions Saturday with a gutsy performance that felt more like a playoff start than an audition.

His fastball was lively, his off-speed pitches were deadly, his location was razor sharp, and his emotions ran high.

After a grounder glanced off his glove and prevented him from turning the inning-ending double-play he wanted with the score tied in the seventh inning, he shouted at himself and smacked his glove, angrily.

The next batter drilled a grounder down the right-field line that first baseman Mike Napoli smothered and tossed to a sprinting Peavy. He slid into first, tagged the bag with his glove and rolled over in the dirt to escape the inning.

It wasn't the typical bang-bang play you see out of 33-year-old former Cy Young Award winners, but it showed Peavy's desperation for victory.

"Any time I pitch, I have nothing left to give, I can promise you that," Peavy said. "It's not even the run support. It's just finding a way to win on my day. I've pitched in tight games my whole career, and I've been able to win. I've got to find a way to get better. There are so many little, small things that happen on a daily basis."

In a clubhouse full of players and coaches feeling guilty for his latest loss, Peavy was his own biggest critic. He obsessively nitpicked over this pitch and that play, marginal differences that swung the game.

Perhaps his only mistake on Saturday was that he thew one too many pitches.

Surprising to many, Peavy jogged out onto the field to start the eighth inning, and Jose Altuve hit his 103rd pitch -- a fatigued 88 mph fastball -- for a double. Red Sox manager John Farrell immediately pulled Peavy in favor of Andrew Miller, who got the Red Sox to two outs before Junichi Tazawa came in and surrendered the go-ahead run, dropping Peavy to 1-8 on the season.

Peavy struck out a season-high nine batters, his most strikeouts in nearly 15 months. He allowed three runs on six hits and one walk.

The Red Sox have scored just two runs in the last 20 innings that Peavy has pitched. Although he has pitched at least six innings in all but three of his 19 starts, only twice has he left games with more than three runs of support on the scoreboard.

"I think his run support is probably less than three runs a game on the year," Farrell said. "The way he has pitched isn't reflected in his win-loss record. He can only control so much, and what he was able to control today, he was outstanding at, and that was leaving guys in scoring position."

When asked how he would personally assess his first half of the season, however, Peavy zoned in on the statistic Farrell disregarded.

"Not good," Peavy said. "1-8. Not good."

Peavy said he has not been updated by the Red Sox front office on its plans for him, but he said he looks forward to a much-needed All-Star break.

"I know it's a possibility, I know it's a reality," Peavy said. "I'm hoping with all of me that it's not the case, but I'm sure there will be rumors flying as long as I'm here. I don't want to leave a man in this room, and I think the organization knows that. That being said, I wouldn't be upset or disgruntled at the organization for doing what they think is best."

Despite the lack of run support on Saturday, there was no lacking of hits.

Napoli was the only starter who failed to get a hit. Rookies Brock Holt, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts all had multi-hit games.

"The last couple of days, the bottom of the order has done very well," Farrell said. "When you consider what Jackie's done, what Mookie did today, our offensive approach was really good today. It's just that in key moments, we didn't get a hit."

On Sunday, the Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound to try to end the first half of the season on a positive note before the All-Star break.

Oh, and good news -- the Red Sox have scored at least five runs in five of Buchholz's last six starts.