Peavy singing that must-win tune ... of course it’s a country song

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CLEVELAND – Jake Peavy knows what the statistics say.

If you’re an opposing hitter, you’d better get to the White Sox veteran pitcher early on. If not, there’s very little give as the game goes on. As a matter of fact, he’s the one that does most of the tugging at that point.

Pitches one through 15, Peavy has allowed 11 runs on 12 hits and two home runs this season. Pitches 16-30, 11 runs, 13 hits and two homers. From pitch No. 31 and beyond, the right-hander has allowed 15 runs total.

An explanation?

“I think it’s more coincidence than anything,” Peavy replied, before going through most of his 2010 starts from memory and describing exactly went wrong in each of them.

As far as Peavy is concerned, his first nine starts are history. His season with the Sox begins Tuesday night. Meanwhile, his team’s season started this week, with three games in Cleveland and then four games in Tampa Bay.

Basically, it’s go time.

“The bottom line is baseball is baseball,” Peavy said Monday. “We felt like we had a good team, we still feel like we have a good team. We’ve got to grind it out and play better baseball. Winning a series from a team like Florida [over the weekend], we believe we have to do that. Coming in here, there ain’t no ifs, ands or buts about it, this [Cleveland] team has a few injuries, we have to win this series. I’m not sugarcoating anything, ‘Hey, we’ve got to play good baseball.’ We’ve got to beat teams that we feel like we should beat. That’s not a knock against the Cleveland Indians; they’re hurt right now, they’re not playing their best baseball. If we want to be where we think we need to be, you have to win series.”

The way Peavy sees it, interleague match-ups with the Cubs twice, Pittsburgh, the Nationals, Atlanta and then ending June in Kansas City will all but determine the fate of the 2010 Sox, one way or the other.

“We have a favorable schedule over the next month,” Peavy said. “We still believe in this team and I’m happy to be in a situation where from the owner to the general manager, they’re going to try to win. There’s not going to be, and [general manager] Kenny [Williams] reiterated it, ‘Listen, we’re not mailing it in, we’re trying to get better.’

“Am I frustrated by the way the team’s playing, the way it started for me? Absolutely. But that can happen anywhere. There are a lot of teams that thought they had a good team going in that aren’t playing worth a darn right now. Atlanta, you look at the Mets, just to throw some teams off the top of my head that had high expectations and just haven’t played well. This thing can turn around. We’re not far enough out of it to make run. We have plenty enough games against the teams in front of us. I think this next month or so is going to play a big hand in where our season goes.”

Manager Ozzie Guillen sure hopes so. Then again, he’s spent most of the season having his heart broken by his team, so excuse him if he wants to see it before diving in head first.

“I think we play good for a couple days, and all of a sudden we don’t play well for three or four days and we’ve been like that all year long,” Guillen said. “I wish this series against the Marlins [over the weekend] turned this thing around and we play better.

“Believe me, we cannot play worse than what we did in April. That was pretty sad. That wasn’t what we thought we were going to play.”

Peavy will take his chances.

“I’m excited to be in a place where winning matters and you don’t mail it in,” Peavy added. “That’s not knocking where I have been [in San Diego]. But we were hoping to win out there and they expect to win here and they’re going to continue when things aren’t going right to expect to win, not rebuild for next year and the year after that. That’s an exciting place to be.”

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