Stanford has entered The Slump Zone, and like all such voyages, we know it will end, but we don’t know when, and until it does, baseball is pain. The Cardinal needed a spectacular inside the park home run from Quinn Brodey to avoid sitting here on Tuesday with the stank of a seven-game losing streak, which is an odor so foul even the guys who concocted Sex Panther wouldn’t touch it.
Even more troubling it that this weekend Stanford lost in all the ways to lose, so we can’t pinpoint the loss on a single flaw that would make things feel better. Instead, Stanford’s struggles are a game of whack-a-mole where some new malady pops up just as another disappears. Great pitching, but no hitting? Wait, here come the bats, where did the pitching go?
On Friday, Stanford led off with it’s typical series opener, “Let’s Leave Tristan Beck out to dry.” The 19-year old was again solid, allowing just three earned runs, striking out 11 and walking only two in 6.1 innings. In Pac-12 play, Beck has allowed nine total runs in five starts, and he’s never allowed more than three in any of them. Stanford, however, has only scored 14 runs in those five games. On Friday night, the Cardinal managed to scratch only twice, leaving Beck and the Cardinal on the wrong end of a tight 3-2 defeat.
On Saturday, the Cardinal bats perked up, as stater Chris Castellanos preserved Stanford’s 5-3 lead through six. In the seventh, he secured but one out and what followed was an unmitigated dumpster fire and when the fire extinguishers finally came out, the Sun Devils had a five-run seventh that carried them to a 9-6 win.
Yesterday, Sunken Diamond became Coors Field West, with runs and hits aplenty. Unfortunately, when the dust settled, Stanford was on the wrong end of an 8-7 slugfest that ended in ten innings.
Stanford, a team built on pitching, just couldn’t score enough to overcome uncharacteristic letdowns from usual stalwarts Colton Hock and Tyler Thorne. Hock made two appearances in the series, and gave up four runs over eight innings. Thorne sported an ERA of 40.50 for the series after going two thirds of an inning and surrendering three runs on three hits and a walk. It was a rough time for the bullpen to scuffle, as bette pitching out of the pen may have turned the series.
So Stanford currently sits at 7-8, tied for eighth in the Pac-12 with USC and Oregon. It’s a road week for the Cardinal, who head to Santa Clara on Tuesday before moving on to Eugene to take on the Ducks, who currently sit with the Cardinal. This has been a much improved season for the Cardinal, but with youth still waiting to be served, there stands to be some more bumps like this weekend ahead. How quickly they dig themselves out will ultimately be the tale of this season.