Texas heads to Columbia this weekend for a huge series with #8 Missouri. The Tigers (23-8, 5-4) feature the best starting pitching staff that Texas will probably see all season. Aaron Crow and Ian Berger have the #1 and #2 ERAs in the Big XII and Sunday starter Kyle Gibson is #10.
Mizzou is, however, a middle of the road offensive team, evidenced by their 25 runs in the last 6 conference games. The Tigers have scored 3 or fewer runs 8 times this season (compared to 4 times for the Horns), but the pitching has been so good that they are 5-3 in those games. Getting ahead early Friday and Saturday could be the difference between a winning series and one that we won't enjoy quite so much.
Of critical importance, Augie has decided to switch up the Horns pitching rotation. Freshmen sensations Brandon Workman and Chance Ruffin will get the biggest starts of their young careers. Ruffin pitched 6 scoreless innings last week (3 on Saturday, 3 on Tuesday), giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk. Brandon Workman was fantastic on Sunday, giving up 1 run on 2 hits over 6.1 innings. If these two can become the weekend starters we think they can, Texas immediately becomes a threat for Omaha again.
The other issue is the defense. Every time we think it's getting better, BANG, a 5 error game. Travis Tucker has been back at third and Michael Torres at second, but if Texas can't even get mediocre defense from these two then Augie will be hard pressed no to sit them.
Texas probably won't sweep this weekend. A series win though, especially one that features a win on Friday, would be a very good thing for the Horns. Taking two of three would put Texas at 9-6 with sweepable series versus Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas State coming up, and could lead to much bigger things.
To sum up: big weekend ahead.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
April 11, 2008 -- 6:30 PM
Texas: LHP Austin Wood (2-2, 4.46 ERA)
Missouri: RHP Aaron Crow (7-0, 0.69 ERA)
April 12, 2008 -- 2:00 PM
Texas: RHP Brandon Workman (4-1, 3.16 ERA)
Missouri: RHP Ian Berger (3-1, 0.81 ERA)
April 13, 2008 -- 1:00 PM
Texas: RHP Chance Ruffin (3-2, 1.73 ERA)
Missouri: RHP Kyle Gibson (5-0, 2.84 ERA)