Well this weekend wasn’t what I was hoping for or expecting. We made Arizona’s pitching staff look either really lucky or really good. I’d say it’s a little bit of both. Our pitching staff outside of Fetter and Miller looked quite the opposite. We had trouble scoring runs most of the weekend, being shut out twice in the weekend. I can’t find the last time that happened by searching MGoBlue, but it probably was back in the early 90s. I’m tempted to post Brian@MGoBlog‘s recent picture of the screwed up cake as it looks more like a baseball anyways. It seems to more adequately describe the disaster of a weekend.
Slight note, for the full box score, click the yellow ‘Box Score’ in the score charts. I’m experimenting still with ways to save space and get more information out. Anyways, on to the recap.
W – Guilmet (2-1) L – Chris Fetter (2-1) Sv – Stoffel (4)
The story of game was runners left on base. Eric Sorenson, formerly of CSTV – back when, you know, they covered college baseball – now of collegebaseballtoday.com, sums it up like this:
You can look at this one of two ways, if you’re a Michigan fan it’s a case of blown opportunities and near-misses. If you’re an Arizona fan it’s a case of bearing down and coming up clutch when it mattered.
Either way, the fact remains that Arizona enticed Michigan into stranding 11 base runners on the night, eight of which were in scoring position. This frustration led to the UofA picking up a much-needed 2-0 win on Friday night in temperate Tucson.
Frustration indeed. Michigan stranded 5 runners at third, 3 at second, and three at first. The Wolverines also grounded into 2 inning ending double plays, both by Dufek. Those might have hurt the worst as it stranded one in the 1st and 2 in the 7th. The rally killer in the 7th was the end of the day for Michigan bats, which were actually fairly productive for not scoring a run.
Michigan spread out 9 hits and 4 walks on the night, and lead off several innings with hits. The runners just couldn’t be moved around. Outside of those double plays, the other major culprit was strikeouts. Michigan struck out a dozen times, earning everyone in the stadium a free Slurpee (actually they earned the free Slurpee after the ninth strikeout of the day in the 8th). Speaking of that particular strikeout, it was Alan Oaks’ fourth of the day, making him the second recipient of the golden sombrero this year for the Wolverines. Ugly.
Kevin Cislo and Anthony Toth both had multi-hit games, but after that, there wasn’t much else to talk about. Cislo went 3/5 with a double and Toth went 2/4 with a double. Both did, however, get caught stealing. I can’t blame Cislo too much for his, as it was a hit and run with him on second and Fellows on first. Ryan LaMarre struck out swinging at a pitch above his hands, leaving Cislo out to dry. Even Toth’s was tough luck as Arizona pitched out on the play. Our rock, their scissors.
The outfield wall did come into play a few times both on offense and defense. Fellows knocked a ball to the wall that lead to his first career triple. LaMarre ripped a high hard one to deep left, but between the wind and the fence, it just couldn’t make it past the warning track. I had the booth confirm that the hit would have been way out at the Fish. Tough luck for Ryan.
On defense, we had a mess of fly balls giving the outfielders trouble. Balls were consistently flying over their heads and off the wall. Kenny Fellows made a pair of “web gems,” one going back into the wall and the other sliding in foul territory. Kevin Cislo also had a great diving stab going toward first. He was at full extension on the backhanded grab of a sharp liner off the bat of Valenzuela. Good defense all around for the Wolverines in this game.
Chris Fetter didn’t have his best day on the mound, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that by his final line. Chris went 7 1/3 inning, giving up 8 hits and 2 runs, only one of which was earned. He worked into a jam here and there, but managed to get himself out of nearly every sticky situation. The run in the third came from a single, sacrifice bunt, and single, while the unearned run in the 5th came from a lead off single and a passed ball right through Kalczynski’s legs. The runner probably would have scored later in the inning as two batters later, a double went off the wall.
Let us never get shut out again?
- Kevin Cislo – 3/5 2b
- Chris Fetter – 7.1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 HBP
- Matt Miller – 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R
- Alan Oaks – 0/4 4 Ks
- The 8 hole – Combined 0/4 with 4 Ks, stranding 5 base runners. To be fair I guess I should mention Aspinwall never batted despite being in the lineup in the 8 hole. Lorenz, McLouth, and Crank are the guilty party.
- Jake McLouth – Not really a goat, but he tweaked his ankle and only pinch hit in this game. We could had used his bat otherwise.
W -Simon (2-1) L – Matt Gerbe (0-1) Sv – Stoffel (5)
This game saw Michigan finally push runs across the board, but their big inning was immediately eclipsed by that of Arizona. Eric Katzman started shaky and it only got worse to start the third inning. He hit 3 batters and walked four while not giving up a hit and striking out four. He walked the bases loaded in the 3rd and was pulled for Matt Gerbe.
Gerbe walked in the first run, then gave up a pair of singles, allowing all of Katzman’s runners to score. He left after only getting two outs, he was pulled for Tyler Burgoon. Burgoon also inherited the bases loaded. He gave up a double to the first batter he faced, scoring all three of Gerbe’s base runners. Michigan would never retake the lead.
Burgoon gave up another run in the 6th from back to back hits to lead off the inning. He gave up another 2 on a Dillion Baird 2-run-homer. Mike Wilson came in to stop the bleeding in the 8th and pitched 2 innings of shut out ball.
On offense, Michigan had a pretty good game, it just wasn’t enough to recover from the 6 run third inning. The Wolverines out hit the Wildcats 13 to 10, but pushing runs across the board was the problem. Michigan stranded 9 in this game, including 4 at third base and one at second (it was second and third and 1 out). Finishing innings just wasn’t happening.
In the third, Urban tripled to knock in runs 2 and 3, but he was followed by back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out. In the 7th, after Timmy Kalczynski sacrificed himself to move the runners to second and third and one out, Oaks struck out in a pinch hit opportunity and Toth grounded out. It was just tough luck there.
The middle of the order had a great game. McLouth returned from the tweaked ankle to go 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs. Mike Dufek did well going 3 for 4 with two doubles, a run and an RBI. LaMarre and Cislo both kept their hit streaks alive, currently at 10 games. LaMarre went 2 for 4 with 2 runs, while Cislo went 1 for 3 with 2 walks and a run.
This was a solid loss. The strikeout numbers, while high, weren’t as bad this time around. Stoffel is nasty and I find it amazing he hasn’t flown to the professional ranks yet. They guy throws in the mid 90s with accuracy. His breaking pitches had Michigan looking like deer in headlights. He struck out all 5 batters he faced this game. The guy is just good.
- Jake McLouth – 3/5 3 RBI, 2 R, K
- Mike Dufek – 3/4 2 2B, 1 R, 1 RBI
- Ryan LaMarre – 2/4 2B, 2 R
- Mike Wilson – 2IP, 1 H, 1 BB
- Eric Katzman – 2+IP, 3 ER, 4 BBs, 3 HBP, 0 H,
- Matt Gerbe – .2 IP, 3 ER
W – Bandilla (2-1) L – Travis Smith (2-2)
Game 3 of the series wasn’t even close. Michigan was shut out… again. This time the culprit wasn’t strikeouts, but rather double plays. Michigan stranded 9 in this game, but grounded into a crippling 3 double plays. While the first two games of the series might have come off as solid losses, this one was just a flat out pantsing.
We’ll start with pitching. It was bad. Moving on… okay, fine, unlike BigTenHardball, I guess I have to address it… pitching. Travis Smith has kept his pattern of good start bad start alive. A week after throwing 6 innings with 8 Ks and 2 earned runs, Smith collapsed early, giving up 9 hits and 7 runs (all earned) in just 2 1/3 innings of work. After Smith gave up a home run to clear the bases with one out in the third, Wood came in to stop the bleeding, but gave up a walk and an RBI double. It was 7-0 after three, and the game was pretty much over.
Matt Miller pitched a pair of scoreless innings in the 5th and 6th, by far the bright spot on the mound for Michigan. Vangheluwe and Dufek closed out the game with an inning a piece. Vangheluwe gave up 4 hits and 3 runs while Dufek gave up 3 hits and 2 runs.
Arizona was just on fire this game. They were consistently hitting the ball deep to the outfield. Our outfield recorded 11 put outs, several balls made it past our right fielders. Urban and Oaks are definitely in the game for their offensive prowess and not their speed or jumps on fly balls. A couple balls landed just outside of their reach, some bouncing all the way out to the fence.
Fellows on the other hand continued his great defensive performance this weekend. In a weekend with such poor results, it would be easy to miss his glove, but it definitely saved a few runs in each game this series. He had another catch at full extension to save a double and a run in this one.
At the plate, Michigan had trouble even getting on base. Arizona starter Bandilla combined with relievers Doyle and Roach to shut down the Wolverine bats, allowing 6 hits with 3 walks. Bandilla also hit two batters, but it didn’t end up affecting the score.
The closest Michigan came to scoring was in the first inning. Cilso lead off with a double, and Fellows followed that up with a single up the middle just past the shortstop. Cislo had to hesitate to make sure the ball made it past the infielder, and that was just enough to allow the Arizona center fielder to gun him at the plate.
Unlike previous games where strikeouts were the problem, grounding into double plays were the culprit here. With one out in the third and runners at first and second, LaMarre ended the inning on a 4-6-3 double play. With a runner on first and one out in the 5th, Urban ended the inning with a 4-6-3 of his own. Toth ended the 5th with a 6u-3 double play. So that was the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings all ending in double plays.
The double play in the fifth inning was the final dagger in Michigan’s coffin. The only hit after this would come in the 7th on a Mike Dufek lead off single. By the 8th, Kittle and Stephens had both entered the game for “garbage” time.
Positives from the game? For the beat down we received it only lasted 2 hours 47 minutes. We didn’t have to face Stoffel again. We don’t have to worry about Arizona for the rest of the year.
- Matt Miller – 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H
- Kenny Fellows’ Defense – Along with his 5 put outs, he had at least one catch that saved a run, and several more that prevented extra bases.
- Only 5 team strikeouts?
- Travis Smith’s consistent inconsistency – Despite the record, he’s had good start/bad start/good start/bad start this season, this one is 2 1/3 IP, 9 H, 7 Rs, 2 Ks
- Relief pitching outside of Miller – 3 2/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R
- Ryan LaMarre – Hitting streak ends at 10 (this really isn’t a goat, everyone has nights like this)
Stoffel is a Beast
Collegebaseballtoday.com released his thoughts on the game two. It includes the following two descriptions of Stoffel:
I was going to write a clever opening to tonight’s entry here, but Jason Stoffel leered down at me from his pitching mound, gave me a cross look and nearly scared the bejesus out of me. So I’ll just drop that.
See, I just got done watching Arizona pull the rug out from under Michigan for the second night in a row, mostly on the strength of a reliever who is a wicked flamethrower that comes in breathing fire like an angry Gene Simmons.
Five batters. Five strikeouts. Five saves. I’ve got five words for you: Stay away from Jason Stoffel.
The kid is ridiculous. Thank goodness we won’t have to face him for the rest of the regular season. He will probably be the best reliever we face all season.
Where This Leaves Michigan
As for what Arizona means to the season, it doesn’t mean too much. I think we have a hard time making the NCAA tournament without some major muscle flexing in the Big10 conference season or winning the tournament. We’ll have a chance to make up some of our RPI during the conference season, something that generally isn’t true. Ohio State and Illinois are both in the top 50 in RPI right now, but even theirs will drop as they face the Northwesterns and Iowas of the Big10.
I think it is important to remind all of you, as it even escapes me sometimes that Michigan is built to win the Big10, not compete with the top programs in other conferences. JJ in the comments was nice enough to remind me of this the other day. We’re a mid major. We win our conference tournament and try to surprise people when it comes NCAA time. We’re not out there dominating the Rice’s and the Texas’s in the regular season. We earn our bid and move along.
I posted some general thoughts on strikeouts over the weekend. I’m working on refining those statistics for better comparisons. I also am looking into runners left on base and ability to move runners over with less than 2 outs. Those updates may or may not make it up this week as I’m ordering a new stat tracking software package against my better judgment (why am I spending $20 on this? because I’m too lazy to figure things out on my own…) to help me stay on top of things, and make it easier to present to you.
Heading to the Home Opener
For those of you who didn’t click the link in Game 3, it takes you to a scoreboard update by BigTenHardball. In it, there was one other score that really caught my eye. IPFW 1, Purdue 0. We play IPFW in our home opener on Friday. I definitely didn’t think I’d be worrying about losing to the Mastadons, but now I’m second guessing our chance at a home sweep this weekend.