Recently, the 8th inning has been a tough inning for the bullpen. Do you have any idea why it has been such a tough inning for you guys?
"Yeah, the 8th inning has been a little crazy on us right now. I really can't give any reason. It's like that inning is just hitting us. We are getting into bad situations where we are getting behind in the count a lot, not getting ahead of hitters. It is just coming to a head in that inning. Basically, it is only that inning. I feel like we have given up more runs combined in that inning than in all the other innings. It is one of those mental humps that we have to get over. We have to go out in the 8th inning and attack it like we do all the other innings."
During the fall scrimmages, the bullpen dominated. Now, in the spring the bullpen isn't dominating. What is the difference?
"The easy answer for that is in the fall nothing is on the line. In the spring there is always something on the line."
Most of the bullpen has been in situations that you are being put in during the spring. It's really nothing new for most of you.
"Yeah, we have been there before. It is kind of like we have to get over the mental hump. Once we all realize it is still baseball and we just go out there and play that will be a big deal for us."
Coach Thompson has a quick hook with the pitchers at times. In the 8th inning against Alabama you gave up a bloop single that allowed a couple of runs to score, then you were pulled. As a pitcher, how do you deal with that?
"I want to be a coach someday so I understand the plan there. The plan was I was going to pitch to the righty and get him out. Then Daniel Brown was going to pitch against the lefty because he matched up better against him. But let's say I got him out, then I might have come back and threw in the 9th. I'm not really sure, though."
Does Coach Thompson talked to you about the situations afterwards or does he explain it when he comes out to the mound?
"He doesn't really explain it while I am out there. I don't know if he has actually explained it to me. I just know. Some guys might not understand it but if I were a coach that is how I would explain it to a player if he asked me. Daniel Brown would match up better against the lefty than you would."
Does it surprise you the success the starters are having going so deep into games? That hasn't always been the case the last couple of seasons.
"It is not a surprise to me. Those guys have great stuff that can last through games. Hopefully, they can keep it up. I think it is special when you have starting pitching that can go deep into games consistently."
One of the starters is Austin Sexton. He is tall but not too big. Is it a surprise to you that he has shown the endurance to go deep into games, even throwing a complete game?
"It doesn't surprise me. I think people think to have endurance you have to be a thicker guy, but for us, we run all the time and we throw a lot. So, the endurance is there."
Something else that is different about this pitching staff is the number of home runs that you have given up as a pitching staff. I believe the number of home runs is 15. Normally, the MSU pitching staff keeps the ball down, hence not allowing home runs. Do you know what is the difference this season? Is it the new ball or are you guys just keeping the ball up more this season?
"I think it is a combination of both. The ball goes a few extra feet, 10 or 15 if you hit it right. I also think our pitchers are not getting down on the string like they should be. Plus, give the opposing hitters credit, they are taking advantage of bad pitches, whereas they may have not done that in the past. I think that is the difference, they put good swings on bad pitches."
What do you know about how the field plays at Kentucky? It is known as a home run park.
"I know it has a short right field. I think just from tradition there they have a predominate left-hand hitting lineup. So, I think they will try to pull the ball and hit home runs, drive that area of the ballpark. I think our guys are going to have to pitch in on them. I think the keys for us."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.