Seriously, man! Stop being such a realist! It's OSU. They suck even if they're good.
Tennessee is not recruiting well just because they got 18 dudes
Michigan (25-14, 7-5)
Ohio State(23-13, 7-5)
|Friday 6:35pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|TBA||vs||Alex Wimmers (9-0, 1.61 ERA)|
|Notes: Michigan is 157-89-1 all time, Last year: 1-2 series loss.|
|Saturday, 6pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|TBA||vs||Drew Rucinski (3-2, 4.34 ERA)|
|Notes: Barry Larkin jersey retirement starts at 5:45p|
|Sunday 1:05pm ET, Ray Fisher Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|TBA||vs||Dean Wolosiansky (3-5, 5.95 ERA)|
The Buckeyes come to Ann Arbor this weekend with the rivals tied for first place in the Big Ten. The stakes are huge. The winner is in the driver's seat for the regular season championship and a number one seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The loser could conceivably fall as far back as a tie for 7th place if the cards fall the wrong way.
As an added bonus, Michigan will be celebrating the career of Barry Larkin. His #16 jersey will be added to the walls of the Fish, where it shall remain forever retired into Michigan lore.
Final notes and thoughts after the jump:
I don't think I have to remind too many of the loyal baseball followers of what happened last season. Much like Iowa last weekend, Michigan faced off in a double header to open the series and was destroyed in game one by Alex Wimmers. Wimmers threw the first 9-inning no hitter in Ohio State history, and the first against Michigan since 1982.
Wimmers is just as good this year, but behind him, Rucinski and Wolosiansky both have their weaknesses. As discussed in the VEQ, Rucinski is battling a pair of blisters on his fingers. Wolosiansky is also a high WHIP guy. Michigan must take advantage of the weak back end of the Buckeye pitching staff.
On the flip side, Michigan must pitch better than they have. Alan Oaks can't leave he rest of the bullpen hanging with a short start. We've got a talented bullpen, but not all of them are that experienced. This will be one of the better lineups we've seen in a while, and they just don't strikeout much.
I'm interested to see if there are any tweaks to the starting rotation or not. The game notes were unclear on who would be starting, but I'm not sure if that had more to do with them getting out earlier than normal or what. Whoever we throw on Friday has their work cut out for them. They may need to go 7+ innings and give up less than 2 runs just to keep Michigan in the game. Wimmers may have thrown 132 pitches last week, but I don't expect that to affect his game this week.
Also, on the pitching front, it'll be interesting how much Maloney plays the numbers on left handed pitchers versus left handed batters. Bob Todd is notorious for forcing his line up to hit R-L-R-L at all cost. He'll do that for as many batters as he can. Will Maloney burn up Katzman for a batter? Will we see, dare I say, All-Academic Jeff DeCarlo used for a batter? Scary thoughts there.
Derek Dennis is supposedly back for this weekend. This puts Kittle back into the lead pinch hitting role and the line up back to "normal." This is for the best in the long run. Hopefully the time off has given Dennis a chance to relax. Hopefully Barry can give him a pep talk as well.
Game One and two should be picture perfect. As far as reality though, those SSW winds should come in toward the end of the game and man, are they shaping up to be fierce. That's probably from left to right cross wind, but it may end up being straight in from left. As if Alex Wimmers needed any more help. Hopefully he's well out of the game before that happens.
The weather should be fine for the Saturday night cap. There's a system blowing through in the morning, and it should be clear by 4pm. Sunday, well, Sunday might be rough. Heavy rain is supposed to last most of the day. I wouldn't be surprised if they try to sneak a double header in somewhere, but I wouldn't be surprised if Bob Todd quashes that idea either.
For the last four or five weeks, I've dreaded this series. The Buckeyes were finally waking up. Their pitchers were getting in stride. Their lineup finally solidified. The black hole on defense that was Hallberg is stricken to the bench. It just wasn't looking good.
Over the last week and a half, my pessimism has cut down considerably. I'm still not confident in our starting pitching at the moment, but I think I'm equally unimpressed with the OSU Saturday and Sunday starters. Even Eric Best has been a bit rough around the edges lately. That inevitable sweep I was thinking about 3 weeks ago is not the image I have in my head right now.
What I do still have stuck in my head though is an ugly loss on Friday. Alan Oaks gave me nothing to be confident about last week. Alex Wimmers is a first round draft pick. I think that match up all but seals a loss in game one, featuring no less than 9 Wimmers strikeouts.
I like the chances on Saturday. Michigan will host Larkin and a plethora of Michigan alumni. If that doesn't fire up the troops after a potential hard loss, I don't know what will. Brosnahan may have had a rough start last time out, but I think this type of game would be great for him. He's got plenty of left handed hitters to work through and the fan support should keep his emotions on track. I'll take a Michigan win, with a fairly high score (12-7 range).
Sunday is chaos. I don't think we see Burgoon start as we're almost assuredly going to need him on Saturday, or possibly even Friday. That leaves Katzman, Sinnery, or Miller as the potential starter, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see Katzman. I'm having flashbacks of Indiana already. I have to agree with Chris from the VEQ. This could easily be a 14-11 type game favoring either team.
On the other hand, Ohio State will be using Wolosiansky and McKinney, a pitcher who threw 5 innings on Wednesday (pulled with a no-hitter). I like our chances against both of them.
Dare I predict it? Michigan wins the series 2-1.
I can't believe I just did that.
Beat the Buckeyes.
Seriously, man! Stop being such a realist! It's OSU. They suck even if they're good.
If it weren't for the Sunday weather, it'd probably be in Michigan's best interest to throw the Sunday starter (whoever that ends up being) on Friday instead and then use Oaks on Saturday. If your ace is miles behind theirs, why waste him?
Oaks will bounce back, especially at home. Wimmers, too many long outings lately, something has to lose something (speed, control) somewhere. Hope our hitters are patient today.
I'd agree throw Oaks today and take my chances beating Wimmers. I don't think the rest of their staff is full-strength enough to win 2 & 3 if we hit like we can.
Katzman on the hill. OH CRAP.
And Ohio State pulls Wimmers off the lineup card to start the game? WTF IS GOING ON!?
Interesting. I wonder if they are holding Wimmers until tomorrow in order to try to spoil Michigan's big day.
Hard to say what they're doing. So far today, they started Minium (possibly their top reliever) and then they brought in Wolosiansky (their usual Sunday starter) in relief in the 2nd inning.
Whatever they are thinking, I don't mind. 3-1 Michigan in the 4th.
Rumor has it that he had some back spasms that have occured a few times this season. He did throw a few warm up pitches to start the inning before he was pulled. Technically, he'll get the "start" still.
not the intent... but he's coming off two long outings, especially the last one. I don't get why college coaches let kids go so long... Things like this "pop up"... he's had problems off-on all year... he's also pitched a LOT of innings all year.
I went back through last year's game against Northwestern. He went 7.2 and from my count, threw 127 pitches. That was one week before throwing the no hitter. He routinely throws 120-130, and I don't think last week was the specific cause.
That said, when he was pulled, your post was the first thing I thought to.
but I really don't get it. At the "next step - MLB", you'd never see it. In fact, most of these guys are going to put time in the minors in, and they will be held to MUCH LOWER counts the first few years.
I get the guys' a stud, and good for him that he "can", I know he's used to going deep. I just don't see how coaches don't put two and two (i.e. recurring minor injuries and long outings) together.
He's been on the "high pitch count" watch list (Boydsworld) for 2 weeks. Heck, minus the muscle spasms, he may very well have no hit us again... I'm just willing to bet against a guy who's racking 'em up like he is by end of season.
I got lucky (educated, but lucky).
Those guys take less time to "warm up" - used to doing it in a rushed manner in some situations...
It would take a lot longer for a starter to get ready on short notice (like pulling your scheduled starter during warm-ups), they likely had him warm up ASAP but he wasn't going to be ready in time, hence 2nd inning.
would like to chase him ASAP before they hang a couple on us.
I've been chatting with Chris Webb all game. Wolosiansky, for some reason or another, has been stellar every time he's come out of the pen. No way to explain it. Just is. I imagine we see Best if he doesn't get out of this current jam.
Great pitching by both teams. Both Katzman and Wolosiansky both pitched way over their averages. Katzman gets the win, Burgoon the save. Good first step for the weekend.
Top of the order went 0/16. That wasn't so good, but Crank, Dufek, Urban had a great game.
Maloney, as somewhat predicted in the stat post earlier this week, switched Crank and Dufek back. Worked out great.
Plus Obi Ezeh, and the flight crew from Marine One, and a lot of scouts who seemed all WTF? about not getting to see Wimmers tonight.
Plus all the usual athletes/coaches you see at Michigan baseball.
Via Other Chris
Rucinski vs Alan Oaks tonight.
I kind of figured it'd be Oaks today after we saw Katzman yesterday to have a L-R-L rotation. Not sure I take that much stock in alternating rotations, but Maloney has done this consistently when he's had the option. Brosnahan almost a lock for tomorrow unless there's some injury I don't know about.
That probably means McKinney for OSU if Wimmers can't go. McKinney is their 4th starter for mid-week games and usually throws a few innings in relief every week as well. We could also see Eric Best start. He's had at least one start this year, but I don't think it's more than 2 as he's been rehabbing from shoulder surgery (not that that has stopped Bob Todd from throwing him an unreal number of innings in relief early this season).
The pitching has thrown all my predictions to hell in a hand basket. No idea what to make of Rucinski's blister problems. McKinney vs Brosnahan should be in our favor. Which Alan Oaks shows up tonight? Who knows. Game starts in <10 minutes. You should watch ($2.99). Paul has warned me that 2 cameras may not work. They lent their long cables to a certain other school in our state for their spring game and the cables mysteriously don't work now. That leaves just one camera behind the plate.
Michigan loses 3-2. L-Burgoon. Bats were shut down completely by Rucinski. Rubber match tomorrow if weather clears out.
Biondi is now 0 for his last 20. Not going to cut it offensively. Did have another spectacular catch on defense though.
Really questioned why we didn't see Stephens pinch hit for Urban to close out the 9th. Also, I'm not a fan of the switching Dufek back ahead of Crank. The switch to Crank before Dufek worked the day before. I know it's an attempt to switch R-L-R or L-R-L with switch hitting Berset, but there's also something to be said about consistency in the lineup.
And also, Alan Oaks threw a great start. 6.2 IP, 2 runs. Kept us right in there.
Oaks was solid, but you have to give OSU's guy credit. I read an article about how much treatment he'd had thie past few days (even this AM) on his blister. He even said he didn't know how it (the glue/skin etc) would hold up or for how long. Damn nice outing for the condition he was in.
I reallly thought our bats had got it going lately... not yet. Hope we tee it up tomorrow.
That pop up was right in front of us and it was j-u-s-t shy of going over and being foul.
Coach didn't want to change up a very successful outfield?
Michigan wins the series 2-1 with a Sunday finale of 6-5 victory. The win goes to Sinnery, save Burgoon. Northwestern @ Illinois is on BTN. NU loss gives Michigan sole possession of 1st place.