"I need to get better," Peavy said, smiling, "with the signs."
Peavy was referring to his fourth inning at-bat against Astros starter -- and good buddy -- Roy Oswalt, an at-bat that ended with Peavy lining an RBI single to left on the first pitch he saw, instead of dropping it down for a bunt, which is what manager Bud Black called for from the bench.
"He might have missed something there," Black said, also smiling.
But, apparently, the reigning National League Cy Young winner missed very little else, as his seven scoreless innings and the two runs he knocked in were enough to lift the Padres to a 4-0 victory over the Astros before a sold-out crowd of 44,965.
"I call Roy [Oswalt] the best pitcher on the planet and I guess I just saw the second best on the planet tonight," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "It wasn't by accident that he won the Cy Young last year. That won't happen too often with us. Three hits, four hits? That won't happen very often."
Actually, it happened more often than not for Peavy in 2007, as he ran away with the Cy Young Award, leading the National League in ERA, strikeouts and victories by using a nasty, dancing slider and a fastball with an afterburner effect.
And, actually, it happened a fair amount for the Padres team that led the Major Leagues by a wide margin with its 20 shutouts in 2007 -- the next closest team had 13 shutouts.
And now, it appears, Peavy has added another pitch to his repertoire: the changeup, a pitch that he worked to harness and develop in Spring Training. Peavy and Black estimate that he threw between 10-15 changeups in the game, which made his other two pitches more difficult to hit.
"Obviously, we're going to stick with his bread and butter, and that is fastball command and his slider," Padres catcher Josh Bard said. "But I think that it gives a wrinkle to some guys who maybe see his slider better than others. I'm real proud of him."
It wasn't just Peavy's arm that gave the Padres a lift Monday, but it was hit bat, no small order considering the Astros handed the ball to Oswalt, who has developed a very strong friendship with Peavy in the last five years.
They talk regularly. They hunt together and they had a bet of some sorts on the game. But afterwards, Peavy was careful not to gloat too much. The offseason, he said, was a much better time for that.
"He's staying with me," Peavy said of Oswalt. "But I'm not sure he's staying with me any more."
Peavy had a sacrifice fly that brought in the first run of the game in the second inning and then drilled a first-pitch single from Oswalt into left field for a 2-0 lead in the fourth on a pitch that was supposed to go for a bunt.
"He cheated on me the first time," Oswalt said. "He acted like he was going to bunt. Same the second time, first and second, I said, 'No doubt they're going to bunt, move them to second and third.' And he cheated on the first fastball and hit it over the infield."
Peavy's success on the mound and at the plate underscored a night where the Padres had 14 hits and were 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position, an all-too-frequent sore spot in 2007 when runs were occasionally hard to come by.
Tadahito Iguchi, in his Padres debut, had two doubles and a single hitting second in the lineup. The bottom portion of the order also contributed greatly as Khalil Greene, Bard, Adrian Gonzalez and Paul McAnulty each had two hits.
"We had some good at-bats," Black said. "Fourteen hits overall, as a group. It's good to see. Overall, it was a night good night offensively."
Another newcomer, Tony Clark, knocked in the Padres' final run of the game with his pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh inning. Heath Bell and Cla Meredith finished the game by each tossing a scoreless inning, completing what Peavy started.
"I think this was a great day," McAnulty said of his first Opening Day start.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less