After dropping both games in a rain-shortened weekend series against San Diego -- who, incidentally, doubled their win total in the effort -- Texas looks to get back on track this weekend against another West Coast opponent. Stanford seems to be continuing its recent-years trend of starting somewhat slow, as they come into the weekend at 7-6 to the Longhorns' 8-4. However, it has to be said that Stanford's opposition thus far has been remarkably strong.
They started the year with a 2-1 home series loss to new-money power Indiana, dropped an 11-1 decision to local rival Cal in a non-conference game, took two of three on the road against Cal State-Fullerton, and split a four-game series with Rice in Houston sandwiched between two midweek wins. The point is, the Cardinal already seems to be improving and will provide a tough test for Texas.
The key bat in Stanford's lineup is that of true freshman Matt Winaker, who has shown no difficulty ion adjusting to the college game thus far. Through 13 games he is batting .413 with a .500 OBP and .674 slugging percentage. Small sample size, yada yada yada, the kid can hit the baseball. However, Winaker is one of only three Stanford players hitting over .300 on the season, and as a team the Cardinal is sitting at .256 (compared to .280 for the Horns).
Stanford has apparently not set its rotation for the weekend yet, but the top two pitchers so far have been Brett Hanewich and Cal Quantrill. Both sport ERAs under 2.00. Hanewich, a sophomore righty out of Florida, has two appearances in relief and two starts. Quantrill, a sophomore righty from Ontario (that's in Canada), has started three games and leads the Cardinal with 18.2 innings pitched--during which he has recorded an impressive 20 strikeouts.
For Texas, Chad Hollingsworth is back in the rotation--and, in fact, will start tonight. He'll be followed by Kacy Clemens tomorrow, Parker French Saturday, and Josh Sawyer Sunday. Equally important to getting the pitchers some big-time innings on the road will be seeing how the offense responds. In Sunday's double header against USD, Texas managed only a single hit in the seven-inning opening game: a double in the first inning by Collin Shaw, who later scored on a sac fly (also Texas' only run of the game).
The second game was only slightly better, with four total hits resulting in a single run--in the bottom of the ninth after having gone down 6-0 in the top of the frame. The Texas bats have been much improved for most of the season, so here's hoping it was simply an off day. One thing in particular to keep an eye on, though, is CJ Hinojosa's performance. The veteran leader is generally an excellent defensive shortstop and a very solid hitter, yet his three errors have him looking at a .950 fielding percentage and he remains at .190 hitting. If anyone on the team has earned the benefit of the doubt, it's Hinojosa, and you have to assume he'll get it figured out. But with as stacked as this roster is, it's not inconceivable that someone else may eventually at least get a shot--for instance, highly touted sophomore Andy McGuire, who is healthy for the first time on the Forty Acres.
First pitch tonight and tomorrow is at 8:00 PM Central, Saturday is 4:00 PM Central, and Sunday is 3:00 PM Central. The weather is supposed to be perfect throughout. Unfortunately, no TV for this one but you can watch on the Stanford-specific stream at the Pac-12 Network website. This is your Thursday game open thread. Hook 'em!