ST. PETERSBURG -- Jake Peavy didn't want to take the mound on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. The right-hander made that explicitly clear in Monday's pregame media session. No one would be rooting harder for Boston's sweep than the Red Sox's in-season acquisition who has fit in remarkably well with his new club.
Now that the "if necessary" asterisk has been removed from Game 4 of the ALDS, Peavy's mindset has shifted. He has a chance to secure a series win, in his first start since Sept. 25, and end Tampa Bay's season when he takes the hill for the 8:30 ET p.m. contest on TBS.
"I fully expected we were going to win this game," said Peavy after the Rays rallied back from a three-run deficit in Game 3 and won, 5-4, on a walk-off homer from Jose Lobaton. "I did everything I would normally do to get ready. I hate the way the night worked out. I thought Clay pitched well. I relish the opportunity, without question. I hate this had to happen for that to happen. I'm happy to be the guy."
Peavy knows he's going to be facing a very dangerous lineup when he takes the mound.
"It seems like a different guy steps up every different game you watch them and you get prepared, you watch Sean Rodriguez get plugged into the sixth hole in the first game, and it seems weird and you watch him hit a homer," Peavy said prior to the game. "James Loney has had an outstanding year. Evan [Longoria] is starting to swing the bat like we've always seen Evan Longoria. You can't let that middle part of the lineup beat you."
Peavy, who is 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA in two postseason games while with the Padres, threw a simulated game Wednesday that he said he took very seriously to try to replicate a real-game feel and help combat the rust from a long layoff. The 32-year-old, acquired in a trade from the Chicago White Sox, also has another secret weapon: a Native American statue that has become a good luck charm of sorts for the Red Sox.
Peavy, who's heritage is American Indian, saw the statue in the window of a small store in San Francisco and bartered for the unpriced item. The team was going through a rough stretch and Peavy brought him to AT&T Park, seeing if it would help lighten the mood. He told his teammates the statue had healing powers and started him in the training room, seeing if it would help bolster the club. It didn't, with the Red Sox losing later that evening.
"We had a serious team talk with him and told him if he didn't show up tomorrow with a little bit better attitude and show us his powers, then we were going to have to lose him on the plane ride to L.A.," Peavy said. "But he showed up in a big way, [Felix Doubront] pitched well that day, and we took him to L.A. He showed up for us there in L.A, we won that big series. He got on the flight back with us.
"His wardrobe has grown. I don't know if you know, but he's holding some cigars in his hand, and those are celebratory cigars, when we do hopefully reach our goal, we're going to smoke those cigars that he's got in the box. But now he's got a couple of jerseys on. He helped Jacoby [Ellsbury] get back from his injury, because Jacoby has got some Indian in him. They had a good talk. He got Jacoby back for us. He's got a beard now, he grew out a beard to get on the same page as the rest of the guys. There he is, 'Chief.' He's going to ride on my Duck Boat if we win the World Series."
The statue will be there at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night as Peavy tries to build on his previous success in the Rays' home dome. In three starts he's 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA at Tropicana Field and is 3-1 with a 4.91 ERA in six career starts against Tampa Bay.
"He's pitched well here in [St. Petersburg]," manager John Farrell said. "He got three innings of work this past Wednesday, so even though it's been a number of days since his last start, we're looking forward to Jake being on the mound tomorrow. It's one of the main reasons we acquired him at the Deadline, is to pitch in a game like tomorrow night."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.