Texas returns home to Austin with a lot more questions about the 2012 season's prospects than were floating around before they headed out to Palo Alto for a three game set against Stanford. The Cardinal were more than happy to answer one question, though: at this point in the season, is Texas elite? For that one, we got an emphatic "no" at Sunken Diamond. Stanford dominated Texas in every conceivable way this weekend--they manufactured runs and they exploded for one monster inning en route to a 15-1 series finale laugher. They kept Longhorns off the bases, and then stranded them there on the rare occasion Texas managed a walk or hit. They put the ball in play and forced Texas to make outs in the field, which the Longhorns too often failed to do. There are lots of positive things to say about the quality of play this past weekend--but every one of them describes Stanford.
As we noted in the comments, the biggest question coming out of this series is: was it more indicative of Texas's quality or of Stanford's quality? Obviously, the hope for Longhorn fans has to be that Stanford is one of the top few teams in the country and that Texas can still regroup and be a dangerous squad once the postseason rolls around. Based on the fact that Stanford sits at 7-0 after sweeping both Vanderbilt and Texas in convincing fashion, there are good reasons to believe that Texas simply ran into a buzzsaw out in California. You would hope the Longhorns could compete a little better than they did, but at the end of the day we're seven games into the season and there's no need to hit the panic button just yet.
That doesn't mean a five game losing streak is a good thing, or that there is no need for concern. The team batting average can't even smell the Mendoza line at .184, only two players are hitting at least .250, and only four are over .200. We have often restated the meme that Texas baseball is built on pitching, defense, and just enough hitting; but so far they're nowhere near "just enough" on offense. Equally worrying is that after Stanford's hitting clinic last weekend, opponents are batting .277 against the Longhorn pitching staff. If you can't score runs, your pitching and defense needs to be damn near perfect. So far, it hasn't been. That's an unfair standard to be sure, and hopefully the bats can pick up some more slack going forward. But for now the focus has to be on getting back in the W column and ending the current slump. The first chance to do that will be tomorrow night against Houston Baptist at UFCUDFF on the Longhorn Network. No time like the present to start playing ball, and that's the nice thing about baseball: there are so many games that you get to go out and try to right the ship much faster than in the other two big sports.