Why was Keppinger moved down in order? I have an answer
Astros manager Brad Mills wasn’t happy with the way his club performed offensively in Sunday’s loss to the Pirates, so much so he spent much of the charter flight to Chicago following the game trying to figure out ways to get the bats going.
Mills unveiled a new lineup Monday night, moving steady Jeff Keppinger down in the order to strengthen the bottom of the lineup while flip-flopping Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee. Pence took over the No. 4 slot, with Lee hitting fifth in front of Keppinger, who has batted second most of the year.
The move was made, basically, so the Astros wouldn’t have their three weakest hitters bunched together at the bottom of the order. With Sanchez hitting second, he can make outs more useful by putting down bunts, hitting behind runners, etc.
I’ll let Mills explain it: “Kepp has done a great job for us all year, but we’re not being able to utilize what he’s been for us,” Mills said. “His on-base percentage is huge, and you want that from your No. 2 guy, but we’re not able to score him. He’s scored 37 runs and he’s been here all year.
“It’s a situation I’m hoping that we’ll be able to use his bat, because he is swinging the bat well, to drive in some runs. Hitting sixth and having a good hitter behind Carlos will get him some better pitches. Now Hunter is swinging the bat better, and I wanted to be able to split up Lance [Berkman] and Carlos. What this does is stretch out our lineup a little bit.”
The Astros tied a season high with five runs and seven hits in the first inning Monday.