After a disappointing weekend at Swayze against Kentucky, the good guys hit the road and head to the Yellowhammer State to take on the Auburn Tigers (24-13, 8-7). Even though the failure to win a series last weekend has dropped them out of first place in the West, they’re still within one game and are tied with three other teams for second place. But, all that said, the Rebels (26-12, 9-6) really need this series, y’all.
One good thing to note here is that tonight and tomorrow’s games are at night and our heroes are 10-2 in the evening this season. The bad news is, they will face two left-handers this weekend. After the Memphis game, the RHP vs. LHP hitting splits are truly a case of Jekyl and Hyde.
Everything is down when facing a Southpaw. The differential in runs scored is enough to make you hurl and don’t even look at the home run numbers.
Granted, the huge difference in at-bats has this a bit skewed, but the stats don’t lie despite the small sample size. This team is struggling right now against lefties. Especially the soft-tossing ones. And if Auburn is going to want to defend Plainsman Park this weekend, they will attack Mike Bianco’s order with a TON of off-speed stuff. And then some.
Here’s to finding a way.
How to watch
Thursday: 6 p.m. CT
Friday: 6 p.m. CT
Saturday: 1 p.m. CT
3 things to look for this weekend
Who needs a hip bone?
Earlier this week, friend of the blog, Brian Scott Rippee, reported that Olenek would sit out the Memphis midweek game due to a bruised hip that he sustained weeks ago against Florida. In that series, he was plunked by a fastball on the hip bone and then aggravated it again sliding into home.
Despite all of this, the guy is still a hitting machine. Say what you want about the guy’s physique, but the kid rakes. He’s currently hitting .370, good enough to lead the team, and is has hits in 28-of-36 games this season. He is also 6th in the SEC in both hits and batting average, and his 11 doubles on the year are good enough to get him in the top five all-time in Rebs history. Ryan now has 51(!) doubles in his career, tying David Dellucci and Burney Hutchinson for fifth in Rebel history. He’s just nine shy of the all-time record of 60, owned by Brad Henderson.
Can anyone slow down Grae Kessinger?
Right behind Olenek in team batting average is the Ole Miss short stop. After a slow start where he was barely hitting his weight, he has ballooned his average to .338 overall and .452 in the Southeastern Conference. He has hits in 17-of-22 games since SEC play started and found a way on base in 26 straight games.
And even though the Kentucky series was a loss, Kessinger wasn’t the problem. He hit .727(!!) with an .824 on-base percentage and 1.091 slugging percentage. If Ole Miss is going to get back on track this weekend on the road against Auburn, they are going to need more of this from the junior.
The new one-two punch out of the bullpen is nasty.
The pitching staff was always going to be a marathon as opposed to a sprint this year. The entire weekend rotation left for professional baseball so that’s a given. But, the back-end? Well, you got All-American Parker Caracci back there so it’s all good. Well, now you’ve got a two-headed monster to set things up for Karate Kid and it’s rather filthy.
Austin Miller and Tyler Myers have been dynamite this season through 38 games. Overall, they have combined to throw 59 innings and have struck out 64 batters. Their combined earned run average is 2.06 and they’ve given up just 13 earned runs and only walked 13 as well. And how are the opponents hitting them?
A measly .199 clip, that’s all.
The Rebs need them to stay hot to fend off late surges from conference offenses down the stretch if they’re going to want to get back into the host discussion.