OAKLAND -- Allow Jake Peavy to present one of the numerous good news morsels to come from Monday's 4-0 whitewash of the A's at The Coliseum, marking Peavy's first shutout since May 18, 2011, against Cleveland.
"I feel like I can get better. I really do," said Peavy, who threw 71 of his 107 pitches for strikes in the White Sox fourth straight victory. "I feel like I've got some room to grow.
"My arm is going to get a little bit stronger, once I can get my legs under me and get after it in the weight room between starts. I feel like I'll get stronger."
That's right, the 2007 National League Cy Young winner and the man who earned the Triple Crown of pitching that season, once again possesses the confidence to think he can get better even after a three-hit shutout. Peavy (3-0) was not perfect in the White Sox series opener against the A's (8-10), but he was pretty darn close.
After setting down the first nine in a row, Peavy yielded Jemile Weeks' single back up the middle and a walk to Coco Crisp to start the fourth. Josh Reddick's double-play grounder immediately snuffed out Oakland's rally, and Peavy yielded Yoenis Cespedes' seventh-inning double and Coco Crisp's single in the ninth the rest of the way.
By the time he finished his five-strikeout, two-walk performance, Peavy had extended his scoreless innings streak to 14 and lowered his ERA to 1.88. And Peavy is finding this success with a little less velocity than his Padres' days but more pitchability and resourcefulness.
"It looked like a little bit of everything -- both sides of the plate, especially fastball away, strike one," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin of what was working for Peavy against his team. "All the stuff that he does when he's pitching well."
"You see him kind of controlling the strike zone and jumping ahead and intensity," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his ace. "He's going with everything right now. It's not just a stuff thing. He's not just blowing people away. He's pitching and guys are playing defense."
Two-time former White Sox hurler Bartolo Colon (3-2) pretty much matched Peavy pitch-for-pitch, aside from a fourth-inning blip. Adam Dunn homered on the first pitch, giving him four for the season, and Paul Konerko followed three pitchers later on an 0-2 count with a mammoth blast to center for his third homer.
Dunn moved into a tie with Ralph Kiner for 71st place at 369 homers, but it's Konerko who fast approaches a long-ball milestone. Now sitting at 399 homers for his illustrious career, Konerko is tied with Andres Galarraga and Al Kaline for 48th place.
Konerko's also getting the job done with a sore right foot, pushing him into the designated hitter's role for the last two games.
"Probably going to sit him for a couple of days," said Ventura with a wry smiling, joking about saving Konerko's 400th for the home faithful.
"He's just swinging it, not only with power but he's just consistent," Ventura continued of Konerko. "That's one of the things I watch, a lot of his at-bats, and he has the most consistent at-bats day in and day out -- probably of any guy in the league really. That's how good he has been so far."
Monday's victory raised the White Sox record to 9-6 in their last 15 games at The Coliseum, compared to 6-28 in their previous 34. At 10-6 overall, the White Sox also forged a tie atop the American League Central with idle division-favorite Detroit.
Yes, the mantra of 'It's still early' probably will play out until sometime around June, and the White Sox aren't beating World Series contenders in the Mariners and A's. But if Peavy continues to pitch as he did on Monday and really over his four quality starts this season, that hope gradually should become more of a reality.
Here's another piece of good news from Peavy in regard to his stellar performance. He accomplished the shutout without feeling his best on the mound.
"Tonight I didn't feel as good as I have in the couple of other starts," Peavy said. "I still felt plenty good enough. I just didn't have great stuff tonight. I was able to pitch and compete and keep guys off balance.
"That was nice to keep the streak rolling. We are going to grind it out as a team. I have the same mentality and most guys in here have the same mentality. If we stay healthy, we'll be all right."
Two runs scored by the White Sox in the ninth gave Peavy a little extra cushion to complete the shutout. But Ventura made it clear postgame that this was Peavy's start to complete.
"You're always going to want to finish what you start," Peavy said. "It's a blessing to keep the pitch count in decent enough shape to go out and finish it off. It's a good feeling."
"One of the things is he has to be pretty honest with me about how he's feeling," Ventura said. "I told him there are times where we will let him go like this, pitching like this, to go out and extend it a little bit. But you do kind of look at it. I want to make sure he's there in August and September."