For the second straight day Texas entered the late innings against Hawaii with a relatively large lead on the back of a brilliant performance by the starting pitcher. On Sunday it was Sam Stafford's effort (5.1 IP, 3 H, 10 Ks, 4 BBs, 94 pitches) that let the Horns to build a 4-0 lead going into the 8th inning. A Jordan Etier error followed by a Rainbow homer cut the lead to 4-2 after 8 and Hoby Milner gave up an RBI single before being replaced by Keifer Nuncio with the bases loaded and only one out in the 9th. Fortunately, Nuncio was able to grab a line drive and throw out the man at first to end the game and preserve a 4-3 win.
The niceness of this series win should not be underestimated as Texas could have just as easily swept the Rainbows or lost 2 of 3. The starting pitching showed just how elite it could be and Texas pounded out plenty of hits but had trouble pushing runs across at times. Three thoughts from the weekend in bullet format after the jump.
- Paul Montalbano does a nice job of getting on base, but his 1-15 this series is just brutal from the leadoff hitter. We really like Montalbano as a player and hope he succeeds hitting leadoff, but we'd expect to see Augie rejigger things if Monty can't do better. Jordan Etier got a hit on Sunday, his second of the season.
- This weekend made Augie's strategy of throwing eight pitchers on Tuesday seem very smart. Hoby Milner may be frontrunner for the team's closer, but beyond that Texas has a whole bunch of seemingly talented relievers with no defined roles. Similar to Chance Ruffin a year ago, Milner could pitch a lot of innings from the closer spot, but Texas is going to need a lot of solid relievers who can throw 1-2 innings a weekend. Take Stafford's day: mostly brilliant, struck out ten and didn't give up any runs, but his high strikeout and walk totals mean that he won't be as efficient as Jungmann or Green in killing innings. The development of arms in the bullpen is definitely something to watch and may be one of the most important storylines of the next few weeks.
- Texas hasn't hit a home run this season. Will they?
No midweek game this week as the Horns spend an extra day in Hawaii. Big series with a pretty good Stanford team in Austin next weekend. Texas stands at 5-3 and is 2-0 in series. They may drop in the polls a tad but there is nothing to be ashamed of with this start. Taking two of three next weekend would be a nice barometer for judging where Texas stands.