Friday night in Houston, pitcher Brad Peacock got what was not only the first save of his career but likely the most epic one, the most important one and perhaps, the only one he will ever get.
Whichever one it was, it didn’t matter. Peacock broke a lot of hearts Friday night. He broke hearts all the way from New York to Los Angeles (Yasiel Puig appeared to be crying in the dugout as the game ended in the Dodgers’ 5-3 loss) as he, almost single handedly, put his team the Houston Astros up two games to one over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series.
Prior to Friday night’s World Series game, Peacock had been used as a starter and also, for the most part, a middle reliever over his six-year career.
To the regular observer, it appeared that was what Houston Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch also had in mind when he removed starter Lance McCullers Jr. with one out in the sixth inning. It may have been his initial thought to bring in Peacock and then hand the job over to someone else, like the team’s regular closer Ken Giles.
However, Hinch seemed to like what he saw. Peacock’s slider looked much better than it had two night’s prior in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium and while it wasn’t as good as it could have been his four-seam fastball was.
He was simply making the opposing hitters look bad with their late swings, unable to catch up to his fastball. It was as if they just couldn’t pick up the pitch at all.
With the Dodgers continuing to swing late and poorly, Hinch liked what he saw so he just stuck with it. Peacock looked calm, cool and collected on the mound, comfortable with his pitches and with what catcher Brian McCann was calling for. He didn’t appear to shake off McCann’s pitch call even once.
So why not leave Peacock in, when the opposing team had to take their starter, Yu Darvish, out before the end of the second inning? There were certainly reasons to consider not leaving him in.
For one thing Peacock played all of 2012 in the minors with the Oakland Athletics’ organization and spent much of 2015 in with the Astros’ Triple-A team. His slider didn’t look as good as it could have. Then there is always the fact that Peacock had, prior to Friday night, never gotten a save.
He had also only finished 14 big league games in his career and not one of them (obviously) was a save opportunity for the 29-year-old right-hander.
Yet there just as many reasons to leave him in. Hinch let his opposition once again tax practically their entire bullpen as the Dodgers ended up using five different pitchers once their starter had been removed from the game.
He saw with his own eyes a confident pitcher on the mound. He saw the many swings and misses by the Dodgers’ hitters and he knew from there that Peacock was going to be able to close out the game even without a perfect slider but using a close to perfect four-seam fastball.
In allowing Peacock the chance to save the game for the Astros, Hinch accomplished a number of incredible feats.
By allowing Peacock to remain in the game, Hinch showed confidence in what his eyes were telling him. He could see that Peacock, who did not allow a run or even a hit during his 3 2/3 inning first career save, was up for the task.
Hinch’s decision to stick with Peacock made an already record-setting World Series even more outstanding. The Houston Astros won their first World Series home game in franchise history.
They became the only team to have two pitchers get three-plus inning saves in the same postseason (McCullers pitched a four-inning save in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series) and Peacock’s name will now forever be in the record books as being tied for the second-longest save in World Series history.
As most any closer usually does Peacock seemed relieved as he got Yasmani Grandal for the third and final out on a fly ball to right fielder Josh Reddick. He seemed almost in shock while speaking with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal after the game.
He gave most of the credit to catcher Brian McCann for recognizing that his four-seamer looked unhittable and making the decision to call for an unusually high percentage of the pitch over Peacock’s normal go-to pitch, his slider.
McCann definitely deserved a good deal of the credit but it ultimately was Peacock who broke the Dodgers’ hearts and the hearts of Dodgers fans everywhere with his long and amazing, record making save.