WildcatAuthority.com now breaks down the tough weekend up in Palo Alto over the weekend.
Friday 5/20: Stanford 1 Arizona 0
Saturday 5/21: Arizona 7 Stanford 3
Sunday 5/22: Stanford 2 Arizona 1
W: Chris Reed (6-2) L: Bryce Bandilla (4-3)
Player of the Series: Kurt Heyer. He had it all going Friday night as he went 9 innings, gave up zero runs on four hits, while fanning 10. The only thing missing from his outing was the all-important "W". You won't see a guy throw nine shutout innings without picking up a win very often, but that's exactly what happened in the series opener.
In the end, the game might have come down to some questionable base running in the 3rd inning where both Bobby Rinard and Alex Mejia were thrown out at home plate in back-to-back at bats. If not for that, there's no doubt Heyer earns his second Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week award.
Rookie Watch: Konner Wade. The freshman has pitched pretty well since being inserted into the starting rotation. In fact Arizona hadn't lost a game in which Wade had started in until this weekend. Ironically Sunday was probably his best outing as an Arizona Wildcat, as he went 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball for the Cats while scattering seven hits.
Much like Heyer's start from Friday, the only thing missing was a win. On the bright side, Wade is a guy the Wildcats need come postseason time, and if he can continue to keep Arizona in contention deep into ball games, this is a squad that still has the ability to make some noise come June.
1. Strong on the frontlines: This weekend had to be a pretty frustrating one for head coach Andy Lopez because when your three starters combine to throw 22.2 innings of three run baseball, common logic would tell you this was a series Arizona not only should have won, but probably could have swept. The pitching staff as a whole held the Cardinal to five runs the entire weekend. The Wildcats had seven runs in game two alone.
2. Errorless baseball: You're not going to get shutdown pitching performances without some solid defense to back it up. Arizona committed just one error in the series to go along with some big league grabs by Bobby Rinard in right field all weekend long.
3. Selsky who?: Yeah it's almost been that long. Steve Selsky made an appearance in a pinch hitting role with two outs in the 9th inning Sunday afternoon. Selsky struck out looking, and still isn't 100 percent ready to come back and play the field, but it was good to see him in the game at all.
Remember, this guy basically led the Wildcats in almost every offensive category a year ago. No doubt Arizona will want to have Selsky in the lineup come postseason time. Selsky's appearance was his first since April 23 at Oregon.
1. Running into trouble: The Wildcats quite frankly were a mess on the base paths this weekend. They had two runners thrown out at the plate in the third inning Friday night and only had a 50 percent success rate stealing bases this series. This came against a team that ranks near the bottom of the league as far as runners thrown out this season.
2. Power Outage: Between games one and two the Arizona offense managed to muster up just one run; one run against a pretty average Cardinal pitching staff. The same offense that blasted 10 runs off Oregon State's ace Same Gaviglio in the conference home opener was completely shut down over the weekend.
Yes, Bryce Bandilla surrendered Arizona's 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning Sunday afternoon, but at this point in the season everyone knows the Wildcats are going to win games with their bats, not their arms. The offense has to be better, period.
3. Close, but no cigar: Arizona's last four losses overall have all been by one run and three of those have been in extra innings and counted as conference games. If those three games are wins instead of losses, the Wildcats would be 15-9 and only a game out of second place and two games back of first in the Pac-10. Instead the Cats are sitting at .500 and struggling to just get out of the pack.
The Big Picture: With three conference games remaining against Washington, the best the Wildcats (12-12) can hope for is a fourth place finish. To do that, Arizona will more than likely need to sweep the Huskies this weekend at home, as Stanford (12-12) will be playing its rivalry series with California (13-11).
More than likely that series won't be a sweep for either team, which is why Arizona will need probably need a weekend sweep for at least a share of fourth. USC (12-12) is also currently tied with the Wildcats and the Cardinal for 5th in the league. The Trojans end their season this weekend hosting Washington State. Depending on how the Wildcats play this weekend, they can end up anywhere from fourth to seventh place.
On Deck: The Wildcats wrap up the 2011 regular season this weekend when they welcome in the last place Washington Huskies in Arizona's final home stand of the year.