May 3, 2009
A midweek upset loss at Jacksonville State? It happens. A series loss at Ole Miss that should have been a win? Sort of understandable. A home loss to Jacksonville State surrendering thirteen unanswered runs and a loss for our ace closer? Uh oh. Getting swept by the Gators at Foley Field, including giving up an 8-0 lead in the series opener to lose 10-9 and a 7-4 lead in the top of the ninth today? Georgia baseball is nosediving at a velocity that seems beyond the realm of modern physics.
The Diamond Dawgs have suddenly fallen off a cliff. Losers of eight of our last ten, UGA has fallen from first in the SEC to trailing Florida by two games in the SEC East. The problem is that the team never seems to perform well in all or even a couple of facets of the same game. This quote from Bryce Massanari (who has been mashing during the slump) sums it up: "We just haven't taken advantage of things. When we hit good, we pitch bad. And when we pitch good, we hit bad. We can't seem to put it all together in one game." You can add defense to that, too, because errors, pass balls and wild pitches have helped opponents get crucial runs during the streak.
Even today, when Rich Poythress hit a homer to go up 5-2, you just knew that the bullpen, already tired from all the work Friday and Saturday, was going to blow it. The team, especially that bullpen, seems to be running on empty. The pen gave up 9 runs in Wednesday night's ninth and 6 in today's. No midweek games this week should help, but something has to change here. Perno has discussed moving McRee to the pen and starting Tanner, but McRee hasn't looked in real command on the hill in a few weeks. He'd be a great lefty to shut down a rally, but his control hasn't been good enough in his starts, much less a hairy relief spot.
The slump is occurring at the wrong time, in the midst of the stretch run for a conference crown. I'm not yet willing to completely surrender the SEC crown, but our chances are slim and none. The only team in contention that we hold a tiebreaker over is Arkansas and I don't think they are going to finish atop the conference standings. Neither Vandy nor South Carolina are in contention for the division or the conference. Given our level of play recently, though, it's improbable that we would get six wins in those two series. We'll need all six if we want a chance to repeat as SEC champs. At this point, it'll take two series wins to preserve a chance at an NCAA regional in Athens. Even that is beginning to look seriously threatened.