A look at the upcoming schedule, some necessary pessimism, Kevin Keyes hot bat, and Kevin Lusson's cold glove after the jump...
The best adjective to describe Tuesday night’s game is slaughter. The Horns started blasting the Mavericks in the fourth and refused to lay off. Statistically, the Horns are a roll and are firing on all cylinders. The most telling statistic is that we’re in the third week of April and the Horns have yet to lose this month. There’s good news and there’s bad news with our upcoming our opponents. The good news is that we have Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Missouri coming up who are seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively, in the ten team Big-12. The bad news is that we also have to face Kansas State in Manhattan. The Wildcats are four games behind but are still hanging on to title hopes. The Horns need to keep perspective as we’re still a long month away from the start of the Big-12 tournament.
Spoiler Alert: Negativity
Statistically, we’ve never been better, but I can’t help but feel the blowouts won’t last forever. I’m not predicting a basketball sized implosion but I wouldn’t be surprised if we drop a couple easy games. I think that our stats recently are so impressive they are misleading. If you take away a couple of perfectly timed errors by UT-Arlington we would still have won big, but the scoreboard wouldn’t have been lit up like a Christmas tree. The Horns did walk all over the Wildcats and Aggies for four nights but needed extra innings on both Fridays. We’re going to drop a game sometime because that’s the nature of baseball, especially when it’s played by teenagers. They get overly confident in their abilities and they make mistakes. Fatigue is going to increasingly become a factor. How these guys can play four games a week, often hundreds of miles away, and still maintain lives on the 40 acres is beyond me. Without sounding too doom-and-gloom, we’re probably going to lose some bone-head games before the end of the regular season. What is going to be important isn’t that we lose them; it’s how well we shake them off that matters.
Kevin Keyes has the frame of a hitter you expect to knock a ball over the wall every other at-bat. He has lived up to that frame lately with two monstrous home runs on Saturday, one for good measure on Sunday, and a few that were just a few feet short last night. He’s a serious asset in the middle of the order. The batters traditionally before him, Walla, Loy, Shepherd, and Rupp, have a .378 average on-base-percentage. When Keyes does hit big, chances are that one of his teammates is already on base, which explains why he leads the team in RBIs. Keyes frame also leads to the assumption that he isn’t a great fielder or base runner. He runs like Chris Whaley: painfully slow acceleration but surprising top speed. He compensates for his lack of acceleration in the outfield by reading batted balls quickly and efficiently. While Rowe might make an incredible catch while adjusting to a ball, Kevin has the experience to read it perfectly and be standing underneath it long before it lands in his glove. He is behind only Loy and Walla in stolen bases, evidence that he can run. I see no reason why Kevin won’t remain in the outfield and cement the middle of the order for the duration of the season. Also, the Daily Texan posted an article on how Kevin asked to wear 42, Jackie Robinson's number, for a game.
Whose on Third?
Third base is a much different story. Kevin Lusson’s low batting average had been oft excused by his excellent fielding. Third isn’t the easiest position to play, however, his fielding is a liability. His fielding percentage is .853 with eleven errors. The closest any of his peers come is .973 and Loy's five errors, from a much more active position. At the risk of sounding repetitive, Weymouth deserves a start. Lusson couldn’t muster a hit against UTA and was inevitably replaced by Weymouth who had a triple for two RBIs and two runs. A change is either going to come now or never. Weymouth could get up to speed with the easy schedule before things pick up with Kansas State and the Big-12 tournament. I think Augie knows that any permanent adjustment is highly time sensitive and will need to come in the upcoming weeks. Whether or not he makes a change is anyone's guess.