The Canes have a hit a low point in recent program history. And by low we mean they cannot score. For the 2nd consecutive week, the Canes were shutout twice. This time, it wasn’t UF doing it…it was Dartmouth.
The Canes struggled through much of the midweek game, and then rallied for 4 runs in the 7th inning to squeak out a 5-2 win. Then the weekend happened. Jesse Lepore was brilliant again, allowing 1 run, which caused his ERA to increase to 0.90. And that was enough to lose because the Canes did not score.
Saturday looked to be heading the same way, as Jeb Bargfeldt allowed consecutive solo HRs, and the Canes struggled to score. But finally Miami rallied and tied the game. In the bottom of the 9th, the Canes benefited from multiple balks and scored the winning run with 1 hit, a sacrifice, and 2 balks.
Sunday saw Michael Mediavilla take the mound, and the Canes defense not show up at all. Mediavilla allowed 2 earned runs (and one of those 2 was caused by mistakes that weren’t technically errors so the run was earned), and the Canes once again failed to score. They did allow 3 unearned runs and lost 5-0.
Miami’s pitching was excellent all weekend, allowing a total of 5 earned runs, but the Canes only scored 3 runs in total. In addition to the problems swinging the bat, the Canes ran into outs on the rare occasion that they actually had runners on base, and managed to boot the ball around the infield. In Sunday’s game, Jim Morris seemed to lose all semblance of executing a plan, and pinch hit for both Carl Chester and later his designated hitter, 2 things that should never really happen. But the Canes are flailing for solutions. How bad is the offense?
Yes, the Canes are hitting .184 as a team, have only 25 RBI (in 10 games), and have a 35/92 walk/strikeout ratio. They suck. The real tragedy is the pitching has been so good the Canes should be winning most of these games, but are so incredibly inept at the plate, fielding and running the bases that they are 4-6 with a series loss to Dartmouth. The Canes are in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament, something that hasn’t happened since 1972.
And this week will be a new challenge, with 2 midweek games and the ACC opening series against Georgia Tech.
Florida International/@Florida International
Tue: Mar 7, 6:00 PM, Wed: Mar 8, 7:00 PM
Note: Game 1 will be on ESPN3. Both games are on WVUM radio coverage.
The Canes earlier matchup this year with FIU was rained out. I guess that Gregory Veliz, fresh off a nice outing against FAU, will get the nod in one of the 2 games. The other starter should be Enrique Sosa. Not that any of this matters because the Canes have more trouble scoring than Michael Rapaport in a casting call.
FIU played 4 games last weekend, so their pitching staff should be stretched pretty thin. They’ll be playing their 5th and 6th games in as many days. And because of that, expect something of a Johnny Wholestaff approach. On the year, the Panthers are 5-6, but won 3 in a row to get there. More troubling for the Canes is that the Panthers have scored in every game this year, meaning that Miami will probably have to score more than one run, which is a problem (in 4 of the Canes 6 losses, they haven’t scored). FIU also hits a bit above .250 as a team. Normally, we’d expect the Canes to win these games, but FIU should actually be favored given the way both teams have played.
Fri: Mar 10, 7:00 PM, Sat: Mar 11, 7:00 PM, Sun: Mar 12, 1:00 PM
Note: All games will be on ESPN3 with radio coverage on WVUM.
The Canes open ACC play by hosting Georgia Tech, and that is a scary proposition. The Yellow Jackets are off to a strong start, and are 9-2. They have not played strong competition, but they appear to have great pitching and hitting. This could be a blood bath.
Xzavion Curry is going to get the ball on Friday, and he has been great this year with a 1.69 ERA and a 3.4/1 K/BB ratio. But it doesn’t get much better on Saturday, where Jonathan Hughes should bring his 2.25 ERA and 2/1 K/BB ratio to the mound. Sunday’s starter is still up in the air. Keyton Gibson started both losses, and got battered in each. His ERA is over 12. I’d expect him to not get the ball, and midweek starter Ben Parr to move into the weekend rotation. Parr has a 3.12 ERA and a 1/1 K/BB ratio. Regardless, there is a drop-off from the Friday/Saturday starters to the Sunday starters, but it might not matter because whoever GT throws will likely be better than anyone that Dartmouth shut the Canes down with last weekend. The Yellow Jackets’ bullpen will probably be unnecessary, but if it’s not, then they have a strong set of arms with 7 pitchers having pitched 2.2+ innings out of the pen with an ERA under 3. The workhorse is Jared Datoc 1.86 ERA in middle relief. Zac Ryan (no runs allowed this year) will likely close if the Canes manage to force GT into a save situation.
At the plate, the Yellow Jackets rake the ball. Georgia Tech’s worst regular starting hitter bats .240, which is only 10 points worse than the Canes’ best regular starter. That’s how big the gulf in quality is. The Yellow Jackets hit .342 as a team and have bashed 21 home runs this year. They also have a gaudy 1.34 K/BB ratio. Kel Johnson and Joey Bart lead the way in terms of power, with both having battered 6 home runs. From a percentage standpoint, Austin Wilhite leads the way with a .500 batting average, but 3 of their starters bat over .400 and 7 bat over .300. None of the Canes regular starters bat better than .250. And it gets worse in the field. The Yellow Jackets have only committed 5 errors this year.
Any potential arguments about limited sample size are quickly evaporating as the Canes continued level of ineptitude beggars belief. It appears we will be reliant on starting pitching keeping opposing lineups under 2-3 runs per game to even have a chance during ACC play, and even that may be a lot to ask of this Miami lineup. This team is in disarray and in desperate need for a spark. Unfortunately it will only get harder to find that spark as the competition gets tougher, as it will this weekend. I think Miami will, at worse, split the two games with FIU. They aren’t anything special either, and I was impressed with Greg Veliz at the mound against FAU (at the plate, on the other hand…). Against Georgia Tech, however, it will be somewhat surprising at this rate if the Canes do enough to avoid a sweep. Miami has gotten quality starting pitching on Friday and Saturday so far this year, and that should result in at least one low-scoring victory. But only the most optimistic fans would predict a series win given what we have seen so far. Miami goes 2-3 for the week.
This team sucks. I’m reminded off the scene in Gone in 60 Seconds where Donny Astricky says, “You can’t negotiate turns. You can’t signal properly. You can’t maintain speed. You can’t parallel park. Hell, you can’t drive, honey. S*&%, I can’t swim, I know I can’t. So you know what I do? I stay my black ass out the pool!” The Canes can’t run the bases, can’t work counts, can’t hit for average, can’t hit for power. Hell, they can’t hit. At all. This is the most pathetic display we’ve seen, probably ever. If they can’t hit Dartmouth, then I doubt it’ll get better. I’m not optimistic at all this week. FIU probably has enough to beat the Canes, and GT has enough to completely obliterate them. It’s a shame, too, because JD Arteaga continues to work wonders with the pitchers. But not nearly enough. Canes lose all 5 games this week.