Sunday, June 15, 2008

Miami on the Brink

I waited until about 24 hours after the game was over to post because I simply was still fuming over the result of last night's game with the Georgia Bulldogs. I have said time and again that this team needed to be clicking on all facets of the game, and that you need a little bit of luck to win a championship. So far, neither has proven true of the Miami Hurricanes baseball team.

Credit the Bulldogs for sticking around, but don't pretend for a second that they have the superior team. The Canes simply didn't take advantage of the chances they had, and the Bulldogs pounced on their good fortune. The near-home runs of last week (batted down by wind) turned into the dropped strikeout last night. Miami just can't seem to catch a break, and rather than respond with fortitude, they have recently been showing less than championship caliber mental toughness.

In case you don't already know, Miami had the late 4-3 lead, with 2 outs left in the game. Georgia had a man on base, but Gutierrez looked good and just struck out the Bulldog batter for the 2nd out. Instead of being a mere 3 strikes away from the winner's bracket, Yasmani Grandal made a bonehead play, dropped the ball, and then lost it, giving the oblivious batter a chance to recognize the situation and make it to first.

From there, the Bulldogs tied the game and then tried to bunt the runners over. Whereas we saw a poised Chris Hernandez field a tough bunt earlier in the game with success, closer Carlos Gutierrez, a 1st round pick with all the promise in the world, launched the throw well past 1st baseman Yonder Alonso, letting 2 more runs score on the error. The game eventually ended 7-4 and left the hapless Canes stunned.

I honestly don't expect them to bounce back from this. They've had to deal with more than their fair share of bad luck, and right now they aren't playing well enough to make up for it. The pitching has been average at best, and our only reliable starter has already been used up. The defense, which was Top 5 in the nation, has failed us of late. And the star-studded offense has had trouble putting runs on the board when they aren't knocking the ball out of the park. We need more than 4 runs out of this lineup. Especially against hot-hitting FSU tomorrow afternoon.

Things look bad, but I suppose as long as you're alive there is always a chance. Miami would have to win 4 straight games just to make it to the championship series, and I don't think we have the arms to get there. Hopefully we do. I still think when they are at their very best, this team is the best the country has to offer. Unfortunately they haven't been playing like it, and now face elimination against the rival Seminoles, who feature the #1 offense in the country. Hope for the best, but one can't but help fear the worst: the disappointment of not winning a title in what was "our year" to do so.

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