Is Disaster the right word?
I’m sitting here and typing this during Auburn’s Sunday game against Mississippi State. Even if Auburn manages a rally with two innings left (It’s 5-0 Maroons Bottom 7) this weekend will not go as planned for Auburn. On paper, Auburn was and probably still is the better team than Mississippi State. On the field? Not so much. It’s hard to pinpoint just what went wrong this weekend. There are some glaring issues and I’ll go into those in a minute. First, though, it’s just hard to fathom just how bad Auburn played this weekend. A team coming off a series win over a solid Arkansas club, playing a team that in all truthfulness is still putting pieces together. In a perfect world, it would have been a sweep, and in the least, Auburn should have taken the series. That didn’t happen. Now, Auburn is facing a huge uphill battle for the next few weeks.
So what happened? The main answer is two out pitching. Auburn could not close the door all weekend. They’d get in great position to limit damage but couldn’t get that right pitch and the floodgates would just stay open. I’ll have to double check the boxscores but I think MSU scored more than 75% of their runs this weekend with 2 outs. That’s been a problem all season and this weekend it just exploded this weekend. What was once just a minor issue has become a major problem. A huge glaring problem. But is that the biggest problem?
For now, yes. Personally I think the issue is starting pitching and inconsistency. Will Irvin absolutely imploded on Saturday. That kind of set the tone for rest of the weekend. By the time Auburn blinked (or rather, headed into the 2nd) they were already down 8-0 with 6 of those runs coming with 2 outs. Corey Luckie had another rough start, but at least gutted it out Friday to get some solid innings.
I can’t fault Varnadore. Yes, he took his first loss of his Auburn career but for his part it was solid but the offense wasn’t there to bail him out. At least he put Auburn in position to win.
And as I finish that paragraph Auburn drops the Sunday final and sits at 14-10 and 2-4 in the league. That’s the number the really needs to focused on. The record. Because Auburn has exactly 1 day to right the ship. The Tigers are mired in this 4 game muck and it are facing a huge uphill battle.
We’ll know Monday morning just how big that hill is, but now, as I see it, Auburn will be facing a Top 25 caliber club in Troy and probably the nation’s #1 team in Vanderbilt. That’s four games against tougher competition that Mississippi State.
The SEC West standings are completely pear-shaped with LSU at the bottom, Arkansas and Auburn next to last, and Alabama and Mississippi State at the top. There’s still movement there, but it’s the overall record and really the mentality that could come with dropping to 14-14 and 2-7 in the SEC if thinks don’t get corrected fast.
So here’s how I look at it. Auburn has Monday to completely wash the bitter taste of this sweep out of their mouths. A win on Tuesday and we can (maybe) consider this a little blip in the road and a building block for a huge weekend series on the Plains. A recoverable misstep. A loss? Then the steam roll can keep going and it might be too much for Auburn to recover from.
The season restarts with Troy on Tuesday.