By Mark Potash
White Sox infielder Jeff Keppinger, a career .285 hitter, is hitting .159 after going 0-for-5 against the Twins on Saturday. His luck is bad, even his hits are turning into outs.
With Tyler Flowers on first base with a leadoff walk and one out in the third inning, Keppinger hit a sinking liner to center field that dropped in front of Aaron Hicks. But Flowers ''misread'' the ball, was caught too close to first base and was forced at second for a fielder's choice.
''I didn't exactly do that textbook,'' Flowers admitted. ''I read it as he hit the ball hard. The center fielder is very fast. He came flying in and then he started kind of cruising and putting his glove up. I felt like I was farther off the bag.
''I felt like I misread it initially. And then I misread it again and didn't have time to recover. Moral of the story is, I should have gotten out there, stopped and saw what happened and then gone whichever direction.''
Keppinger said he feels fine, but could use a tune-up.
''There's obviously something wrong with my swing,'' he said. ''I'm finding the barrel with the ball. I'm either popping them up or rolling tem over. I'm not hitting line drives or hard ground balls like I normally do. I'm dipping my back shoulder a little bit. my hands are dropping a little bit instead of staying on top of the ball.''
ON THE SPOT
Keppinger has played first base in 34 games during his nine-year big-league career. So he was in a tough spot in the 10th inning when he was handcuffed by Alexei Ramirez's low throw that got away, allowing Ryan Doumit to score the tie-breaking run.
Not only that, but because Ramirez doesn't speak English, Keppinger was the go-to guy for an explanation of what went wrong. Some guys just can't buy a break.
''At that time of the day, where the shadow is and the brightness from the stands in the back, it's not that easy of a ball to read,'' Keppinger said. ''When it's coming in th dirt, it's hard to tell how far in front of you it is -- if it's going to be an easy pick or an in between hop or a long hop. At that moment in time, that's what I felt was the right thing to do and I tried to pick it.''
LAW OF AVERAGES?
Here's how bad the Sox's luck was running Saturday. Or maybe it was the law of averages catching up with Jake Peavy. Twins left fielder Josh Willingham was 0-for-16 against Peavy when Willingham singled to score Brian Dozier with the tying run in the third inning.
''You face a guy like Josh Willingham, who hit 30 home runs and hits .270, I dont' care who you are he's going to get some hits off you,'' Peavy said. ''I knew I had good numbers against him going in. But he's a professional and got a big hit for them.''
PEAVY TAKES THE BLAME
Peavy (2-1 after a no-decision) gutted out seven strong innings, allowing one run on six hits, with four walks and nine strikeouts to lower his ERA from 3.93 to 3.20. If not for a bad sixth inning against the Nationals, when he allowed four runs in one-third of an inning, Peavy would have a 1.80 ERA this season. Last April he was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in April.
But, the bulldog that he is, he took little solace in pitching well in defeat.
''I could have not given up that one there in the third [inning]. It would have saved us a game,'' Peavy said. ''Hard fought game. Tough conditions. It was cold. Got colder as the game went on. Hard to stay loose. And I didn't have very good stuff today. The ball was moving a little bit, but the command was not what you expect it to be. But we battled. We had a chance to win. But just couldn't finish.''