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Back in Business

A few thoughts on yesterday's game, which was pretty darn important for LSU...

-- It meant more to LSU than Florida, so let's not read too much into it.  I doubt the Gators just laid down, but this wasn't a game they had to win, so I do doubt they gave 110%.  There's a difference between wanting to win and having to win.  Sometimes desperation helps.  LSU started its ace, Ranaudo, and Florida started its Sunday starter, Johnson.  Let's hold off on the "we're back!" comments just yet.

-- Still, Ranaudo's outing was a big deal.  This is essentially the same pitching staff as last year, minus Louis Coleman, and it has gone from a strength to a horrible pit of despair.  Ranaudo's injury troubles and resulting ineffectiveness have been at the center of that.  Without an effective Ranaudo, LSU has no chance in the postseason.  His return to health (hopefully) means we have a puncher's chance to beat anyone.

-- This last month has been marred by very, very bad luck.  All of the good fortune we seem to save up for June probably resulted in the extreme bad fortune of April and May.  Every move has seemingly been the wrong one and LSU can't seem to buy a break.  Last night, Mainieri started Austin Nola in the #5 slot of the order, a spot reserved for power hitters which Nola is most decidedly not. 

Of course, the move worked.  Nola had a great game and several clutch hits.  Has LSU just paid their luck forward?

-- Bert looks like he's taken over as closer.  Can you blame Mainieri for this?  A month ago, we were wondering whether to move our dominant closer into the rotation and now we're just hoping he goes back to being a decent reliever.  The good news is, if Ott gets it together, he'll be coming in high leverage situations in the middle of games with the outcome in doubt.  I love having a relief ace in the mold of Bradford or Coleman who can come in for these situations.

-- There were some comments about whether the offense had turned it around or not.  People, LSU scored 451 runs this year, 2nd in the SEC.  The team hit 317/407/498 on the year, which is terrific.  The offense isn't turning around.  The offense is already there.  It's been there all year.  It's the pitching.  If this team just gets competent pitching, not even great, it can go to Omaha still. 

-- Let's not forget, this is the same team that was ranked #5 in the country at one point.  This losing streak has been awful.  It has been spirit crushing.  But it is not entirely indicative of the team's quality.  Maybe we didn't deserve to be ranked that high, but we also aren't as bad as the losing streak suggests.  The truth lies somewhere in the middle.  And we just need a hot streak now to put it all behind us.  LSU seasons are made in June, and look at the calendar... 

-- Yes, I call the team "we".  Deal with it.