One of the greatest baseball phrases comes from Yogi Berra: “It’s like Deja Vu all over again”, which is a pretty apt description of Auburn’s Double header against Davidson on Wednesday. Let us count the ways:
- Both games ended with identical 7-6 wins for Auburn
- Both games featured solid starts by Auburn pitchers
- Both games had Auburn using 6-run 4th Innings to win
- Both games ended with Austin Hubbard saves
- Justin Hargett stole a base in both games
- Tony Caldwell had 2 hits in both games
Just odd. Then again that’s why I love baseball because no day is the same at the ballpark (but Wednesday came pretty dang close).
I’m torn so far about this year’s Auburn team. We are on the right path. I can see it on the field; I can see it in the attitude; I can see it in the product. However, we have some very obvious flaws (fielding and our bullpen in particular) and some very obvious talents. It’s made for some exciting games, but part of me is waiting for other shoe to drop and all those errors and bullpen implosions to result in losses. Then again, maybe winning all these close games is developing a much needed confidence for later in the season. I’m just not sure. Either way, 6-2 on the season is miles better than 2-6.
I guess a bigger blessing is that we are winning games without 2 key players who will return when the games matter the most. The countdown is on and with the conclusion of the Miami(OH) series this weekend, Auburn will start murderer’s row. Best case scenario, if we can head into the Capital City Classic with a 9-2 record then we are in great shape. If we head into the Arizona State road trip with an 11-2 record and riding an 8 game winning streak then my confidence level will be at near giddy levels.
PITCHING- This is about as close to an open tryout as your going to get for the weekend starter position. With the struggles of Jon Luke Jacobs and Grant Dayton, the weekend rotation is still in flux. No better tryout then against live competition. So we got two guys angling for those jobs in the doubleheader: Dexter Price started game 1, Cory Luckie game 2.
For Price it was the first action he’s seen all season. His line for the day was a bit ugly (5.2 ip/7h/5r/4er/1bb/3k) but justifiably a bit of that was rust. He was also a little erratic at times (one runner scored on a wild pitch). Given all that, he was still effective for 5 innings. The kid just ran out of gas in the 6th. He looked in command though, striking out the first batter he face and getting a quick pop out to the second. Then, sadly, the wheels fell off and we got a 4 run 6th (which of course wasn’t helped by 2 errors).
Luckie, on the flip side, was amazingly on fire (4.1 ip/3h/1er/9k/1bb). In his first start since 2007 he looked just as good as he did his debut year. He did flame out a bit early (which is which he was pulled in the 5th) but with Auburn up big, there was no reason to stretch the guy to thin.
On the bullpen side, Stephen Kohlscheen (after a solid debut) has developed a serious case of the yips. His ERA has ballooned after 2 outings where he allowed 4 ER.
Austin Hubbard is shaping to be a solid closer. 2 Saves in the Double Header and the guy just had ice-water in his veins.
HITTING- Not much to say here really, Auburn is sticking by the philosophy of small ball, moving runners, and staying patient. So far, it’s paying off. We’ve yet to have a game where we were simply outhit. Smart base running too. This is definitely something to keep an eye on for Auburn. It’s a hidden strength that we' will need to lean on come SEC time. We still have a surprising lack of power, which of course, I’m chalking up to the weather.
Casey McElroy returned to action as well. Hitless, but he still looked solid in field.
Top Pitcher – Gotta be Cory Luckie
Top Hitter – Tony Caldwell (4-7 with 1 rbi, 1 sb and an all around solid DH)
JOBUs: Still 3 out of 5. Davidson came in absolutely crushing the ball, but with our bullpen struggles and errors, we still haven’t played a complete game.