So, here we are. In the loser's bracket. Aaron Nola pitched well enough for LSU to earn the win, but the bats decided to take the week off and Arkansas scraped out a 4-1 win against the bullpen. Now, we could rant and rave about pulling Nola after seven, but let's face it, this is the SEC tournament and Mainieri rested Nola last week for a reason.
There is no real reason to throw Nola out there for 100+ pitches in a game that, at the end of the day, means just about nothing. It's far more important to keep Nola fresh for the NCAA tournament, even if it means pulling him in a tense, 1-1 game. Besides, the bullpen should be able to give the offense a chance to win the game.
And that's where the concern comes in. The bullpen, which has been a season long strength, has struggled a bit as of late, and they looked darn right mediocre last night. One of the strengths of the pen has been the ability of anybody to get the big outs. Mainieri hasn't had to rely on just one guy, he's been able to call on any number of guys. Well, that lack of a bullpen ace outside of his closer came back to bite him last night. Once BOOOOOOjwah struggled, there wasn't that one guy we had 100% confidence could come in and get out of the jam.
It could just be one game, but the bullpen is suddenly a concern. I'm not paranoid yet, but I am a little worried.
Today's Opponent: Alabama
Record: 32-24 (14-15)
No, I didn't update it to reflect their tourney performance.
When Last We Met:
It was two days ago. So... nothing. Other than the fact LSU is coming off of a loss and Bama is coming off a win, so maybe you could make a ridiculous argument about momentum. But momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher and if that's the case, we got the mo.
There's also the tiny matter that LSU has now scored 1 run in the last 17 innings. Since putting up 3 runs in the 1st inning, the bats have decided to take the rest of the weekend off. You can't win if you can't score, which is today's insightful analysis.
What Drive-by Truckers Album Should Serve as the Soundtrack?
Look, the idea of listening to the CSS crew for a full game is just too much for me to take. I highly recommend cranking up Spotify or the Cloud player of your choice, and listening to some southern rock n roll instead of the broadcast. For each game, I will roll with a different DBT album, on repeat.
This is the last time all year LSU will play Alabama in any sport. I just wanted to throw that out there to maybe give this game some sort of importance beyond the fact it's an elimination game. I mean, I really don't want to have to go home because we lost to friggin' Bama. Anyway, there is no more Alabama-themed album in the DBT oeuvre than Southern Rock Opera. It's a sprawling two disc concept album, and whatever happened to double albums anyway? And concept albums? Luckily for George Wallace, the Devil is also a southerner.
Likely Pitching Matchup:
Ryan Eades vs. Mike Oczypok
The Tide is dipping pretty deep into their rotation to find someone to face the Tigers, so the bats need to wake up and pummel a midweek starter. It's okay to get shutdown by an ace, but you have to bring the lumber against the Mike Oczypok's of the world. LSU's loss in the marble game means we are forced to pitch one of our aces today instead of in the semifinals. I'd like to save Eades for a rematch with Arkansas, but you cannot go home from Hoover without having pitched Ryan Eades. When you are staring down elimination, you have to win today's game and worry about tomorrow when it comes.
TV: CSS/Cox Sports (Watch on ESPN3.com)
Game 13 - 3:00 p.m.
#7 Alabama vs. #2 LSU - Elimination Game LIVE STATS
Radio: XM 199/Sirius 158 (Free National audio stream from the SEC)
BAMA - RHP FR Mike Oczypok (4-1, 3.72 ERA, 29.0 IP, 10 BB, 19 K)
LSU - RHP JR Ryan Eades (8-1, 2.70 ERA, 86.2 IP, 26 BB, 71 K)
Game 14 - 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 13
#1 Vanderbilt vs. #9 Texas A&M - Elimination Game LIVE STATS
Radio: SiriusXM 91 (Free National audio stream from the SEC)
VANDY - RHP SO Tyler Beede (13-3, 2.28 ERA, 87.0 IP, 51 BB, 89 SO)
A&M - RHP FR Grayson Long (4-1, 3.79 ERA, 38.0 IP, 23 BB, 34 SO)