Those hoping to catch the pitching showdown of the season were probably left scratching their heads last Saturday.
Oxford, Miss., home to the weekend series between LSU and Ole Miss, and more importantly the bout between Anthony Ranaudo and Drew Pomeranz, wasn’t its typical quiet land just east of the Mississippi Delta. Instead, the weekend brought a tornado and some not-so-ideal baseball conditions.
With winds blowing straight out to centerfield, two of the top arms in the game combined for three home runs allowed in just the first inning of play.
“I had trouble keeping my hat on at times,” Ranaudo said. “Some of the balls that carried, I had never seen anything like that.”
The night turned sour for the LSU ace in a hurry. After just 1.2 innings Ranaudo was pulled, giving up nine runs on nine hits in what turned into the worst afternoon of his collegiate career.
The exit time for Pomeranz followed shortly after. Despite three innings of one-hit ball the Tigers had managed five runs, thanks in large part to nine walks.
“That was surprising,” said Mikie Mahtook of the pitching fallout. “You never know with this game. You have to go with the flow.”
I Take That Back
Head coach Paul Mainieri didn’t hide from the fact that he might have misspoken after Tuesday evening’s loss to New Orleans when he pinned LSU’s loss on the lack of effort from his players.
After a few reviews through the game film, Mainieri took to Wednesday afternoon’s practice with a new outlook on the defeat to the Privateers.
“I am not so sure it was that much of a lack of effort but that our dugout was dead,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm. There was a lot of idle chitchat and not a lot of rooting for their teammates. Then the crowd wasn’t real lively like they normally are. It was kind of just a sterile environment.”
The lack of gusto evidently flowed over to the team’s performance. With runners left stranded and no long balls sent over the fence, the Tigers, even with good pitching through seven innings, couldn’t hold back New Orleans all night.
“The bottom line on our offense is that when you don’t hit home runs, you have to get production out of everyone in your order,” Mainieri said. “We were 0-12 in the combination of [Matt] Gaudet, [Leon] Landry and [Tyler] Hanover. It’s tough when you are trying to put something together and then those guys all come up empty.
“What we had was a poor performance by Ross and three hitters in your lineup that go 0-12. Even the guys who played hard had a key at bat where they didn’t come through.”
Whose No. 3?
LSU pitching coach David Grewe has found himself tasked with a post-midseason quest of finding a third reliable weekend arm that can fill the empty spot in the rotation.
Anthony Ranaudo (2-1) is the given for the top spot, though four games missed at the start of the season has the junior behind the eight ball. After being served nine runs on nine hits in just 1.2 innings of work last Saturday, the right-hander’s ERA has reached 6.35.
Chris Matulis, who tossed Sunday’s final game, could make the move to the Saturday role. The junior’s 5-1 record and 4.18 ERA over 47.1 innings of work is one of the better lines on the staff.
For names like Joey Bourgeois, Austin Ross and Michael Reed, work still must be done. Mainieri’s patience with Bourgeois appears to be getting shorter with each outing. Ross, who spent time in the Saturday starter role earlier in the season, has not been able to stay afloat during recent relief outings. Reed, whose 9.15 ERA is amongst the worst on the staff, has given up 32 hits and 23 runs in just over 20 innings of work.
Prior to Wednesday’s practice Mainieri wouldn’t comment on changes to the rotation, though he pointed out that new names would likely soon get their chances at securing a role. Names mentioned that warranted a stronger look from the headman included Zach LaSuzzo and Mitch Mormann.
They Said It…
“They had the last at bat. They won two of the three with the last at bat. We didn’t do enough to win, but we didn’t play terrible. We weren’t too disappointed.” – LSU sophomore Mikie Mahtook on being swept at Ole Miss