Offensive struggles, error mar Peavy's outing
Dunn, Keppinger mired in slumps; winning run scores on miscue
CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy deserved a victory during Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Twins in 10 innings before 22,417 at U.S. Cellular Field.
The right-hander had to settle for a no-decision after working in and out of trouble over seven innings and a season-high 117 pitches and limiting the Twins (7-7) to one run on six hits while striking out nine. Unfortunately for Peavy, who has fanned 34 and walked five in 25 1/3 innings this season, the White Sox offense couldn't score against Vance Worley and four Twins relievers after Alejandro De Aza's fifth career leadoff homer.
And a defense that shined in the eighth with the bases loaded and one out, behind temporary game-saving plays from third baseman Conor Gillaspie and Paul Konerko at first, allowed the winning run to score in the 10th on Alexei Ramirez's throwing error. Ryan Doumit, who opened the 10th with a double off Hector Santiago (0-1), came home from second when Ramirez's throw on Eduardo Escobar's slow roller one-hopped Jeff Keppinger at first and then rolled away.
"It hit the runner and he kicked it up the line," said Keppinger, who played the first nine innings at second base. "That was it to that play."
"I slid into third because I wasn't sure if he was going to try to make a play on me," Doumit said. "The second I looked up, I saw Keppinger's back, I saw his numbers and the ball on the ground and it was a no-brainer."
Worley didn't give the White Sox lineup many chances, allowing one run on five hits over seven innings and striking out seven in the pitcher-friendly strike zone for both sides from home-plate umpire CB Bucknor. Three of those strikeouts came against designated hitter and cleanup hitter Adam Dunn, whose 0-for-4 showing dropped him to 6-for-61 with 24 strikeouts this season.
Dunn has maintained that he has felt good at the plate dating back to Spring Training and echoed that sentiment again following the team's eighth loss in 11 games. Much like the rest of an offense that is 17-for-98 with runners in scoring position this season, Dunn believes a couple of big connections could quickly turn around bad fortunes.
"Obviously, the results aren't there and this is a result-oriented game," Dunn said. "That's the first thing people think is that there's something wrong. I don't feel bad. You just can't let it snowball and get in your head and start trying to get four hits on one at-bat."
"Adam's not one to really press too much. He's been through this stuff before," Konerko said. "And a guy like him, I mean two games and he can get it all back. I'm not saying you want to do that, but you can kind of jump back into the ballgame quick when you can do what he can do with the bat."
That early slump, which has left Dunn 1-for-37 and 4-for-54, also has snagged Keppinger. He finished 0-for-5 against the Twins, including the game-ending popup off of Glen Perkins (fourth save), dropping him into a 0-for-21 funk and just five hits in his last 34 at-bats.
Keppinger, a .285 career hitter who is hitting .159, has identified his problem as a swing flaw.
"I'm finding the barrel with the ball. But I'm either popping them up or rolling them over," Keppinger said. "I'm not hitting line drives or hard ground balls like I normally do when I'm hitting. I'm dipping my back shoulder a little bit and my hands are dropping instead of staying on top of the ball."
This dearth of offense kept Peavy from picking up his second straight win and fifth straight against the Twins. He allowed one run in the third on Josh Willingham's single and stranded two runners each in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings.
His defining moment came in the seventh, with Peavy's pitch count already at 112. Manager Robin Ventura came out to the mound with Donnie Veal warming in the bullpen, Joe Mauer on first and two outs. Peavy stayed in and retired Justin Morneau on a fly ball to center.
"We know he's always tough," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire of Peavy. "He seems to ad-lib and just figure things out as he's going through the game. He can come from so many angles and throw so many pitches."
"It was cold, getting colder as the game went on. Hard to stay loose, and I didn't have very good stuff today," Peavy said. "Ball was moving a little bit, but the command was not what you'd expect it to be or want it to be. But we battled. We had a chance to win but just couldn't quite finish it there."
Finishing for the White Sox will take the pitching, hitting and defense on the same page in the same game, which just hasn't happened consistently through the first 17.
"We're not playing anywhere close to how we're capable of playing, especially offensively," Dunn said. "We're obviously not scoring runs and we're not getting hits to break open the game. The good news is that we have a hundred-and-I-don't-know-something games left and it's not time to close up shop yet."
"When you start a game your team loses, I don't care how it happens, it's not fun," Peavy said. "I believe we'll find a way. We went through some tough stretches last year. Hopefully, we can right the ship sooner than later."