Last night, LSU's struggling offense cost the Tigers a game of great importance and gave the dirty, cheating, stinky, filthy, evil Greenies their first baseball win over LSU since 2010. Tulane, without their head coach and coming off a tough weekend, sent out what they could get away with from their bullpen and the Tigers only managed 2 runs off of 5 hits in 11 innings. After responding to the Greenies 2-run 4th with 2 runs in the 5th off of a bases loaded walk and a sac-fly, LSU was completely shut down as Tulane reliever Kyle McKenzie retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, 5 by strikeout.
The pitching last night was actually pretty good. With many unavailable due to the quick turn around from the weekend, LSU was forced to use some of the less reliable arms and got decent results. The maligned Cody Glenn had an OK night with 4Ks in 4.0 IP and though he loaded the bases twice, the defense behind him helped hold the Greenies to just 2 runs. Brady Domangue and Kurt McCune pitched 6 hitless innings in relief with 2 and 4 Ks respectively. Nate Fury had 2 outs on the Greenies in the 11th before giving up a double that put the winning run into scoring position.
The LSU pitching staff has, frankly, been brilliant. The staff ERA of 1.81 is currently 2nd best in the whole nation behind only Houston, and when that fails, the defense behind it fielding at a .981 clip (3rd in the SEC, 10th Nationally) is almost always there to clean up. But all this great pitching and defense cannot survive without a minimum amount of run support and it just isnt there. What was once an attack that could blast weak teams for double digit runs in a few innings now can't get 3 runs across against Tulane's mid-week "starter" and a parade of spare arms. LSU's BA was up at .340 before the Vandy series and has now tumbled to .278. In just SEC games, it's an abysmal .199, second worst in the league.
The whole lineup is struggling, to be sure, but the problem is compounded by the heavy hitters in the lineup like Bregman, Stevenson, and Scivicque all hitting severe slumps. All 3 had BAs north of .400 and all have dropped by .-62 or more. Alex Bregman in particular is a mere 4 for 29 at the plate since the start of the Vandy series and he's only scored 1 run in that time. A Sophomore slump is to be expected from the 2013 National Freshman of The Year, to be sure, but Bregman has nearly disappeared.
How do you fix it? I don't know, I'm a blogger, not a batting coach (and let's get it out of the way now and say that #FireJavi is a terrible idea.) Some of it has been bad luck. McMullen hits into more double plays than I care to count, including a sharp liner to right last night for the rare 1B unassisted DP. Bregman is obviously frustrated and seems to be pressing too hard at the plate. Kramer Robertson has made a few base-running and hitting mistakes that come with a converted QB playing SEC baseball as a freshman. All of this can be fixed with time and patience. While the Saturday game at UF marks the halfway point of the season, it's certainly no cause to panic. With this pitching staff and defense, LSU will have the breathing room it needs to break through again. At least, that's my hope.