Around the Bases Thinks the Season Has Gone Through the Looking Glass // 05.03.10

Aroundthebases2010_medium

We have our first official elimination of the year in what has become one of the more bizarre seasons in recent memories, with LSU now fighting Georgia for most underachieving season. (The ceiling was supposed to be a little bit higher for the Bayou Bengals -- or at least the floor was -- or the Dawgs would have this race all to themselves.)

SEC EAST SEC WEST
SEC W-L Overall W-L GB SEC W-L Overall W-L GB
South Carolina 16-5 34-9 -- Arkansas 14-7 35-10 --
Florida 15-6 31-11 1.0 Ole Miss 14-7 33-13 --
Vanderbilt 10-9 33-12 5.0 Auburn 12-9 30-15 2.0
Tennessee 8-13 24-21 8.0 LSU 11-10 32-13 3.0
Kentucky 7-14 24-20 9.0 Alabama 9-12 28-17 5.0
x-Georgia 3-15 13-30 11.5 Mississippi State 5-16 20-23 9.0

"x" indicates a team has been eliminated from divisional race.

Arkansas and Ole Miss are now tied in the SEC West, with Auburn the team closest to them. South Carolina still holds a narrow, one-game lead against Florida, with Vanderbilt the only other team worth even mentioning for the time being. Kentucky and Mississippi State remain alive if the Eastern seaboard falls into the ocean and the state of Arkansas is swallowed by the earth.

Auburn defeats Arkansas, 2-1
Friday Arkansas 9 Auburn 4
Saturday Auburn 8 Arkansas 7
Sunday Auburn 13 Arkansas 2

In an almost three-week period from April 4 to April 23, Arkansas had allowed five or fewer runs in each of its SEC games and did not lose a league game in that time. Since then, it has allowed more than five runs in three of its last five games and has lost four of five. This is not exactly what you might call a coincidence. Auburn scored all eight runs Saturday in the fifth inning -- a frame that included two home runs by Hunter Morris. Three of Arkansas' four pitchers did not record a strikeout on Saturday. Drew Smyly deserves to be mentioned for nine solid innings in Friday's win, but otherwise the Razorbacks found out why Auburn is the top run-scoring offense in the SEC.

South Carolina defeats Alabama, 2-1
Friday (11 inn.) South Carolina 9 Alabama 7
Saturday Alabama 6 South Carolina 4
Sunday South Carolina 20 Alabama 15

Chris Smelley was well received in his return to Columbia, though there are too many possible reasons for that to allow your humble correspondent to hazard speculation. We'll say it's that the fans were grateful for Smelley's contributions during his time on the gridiron at Williams-Brice. As for the South Carolina pitchers in this particular series -- well, let's just say they best be glad they were facing Alabama's pitching staff, which has a 6.43 ERA in league games this year. That, of course, is probably related to giving up 33 runs this weekend, but I digress. With the wins, South Carolina keeps its SEC East lead going into the stretch run while Alabama's long descent from the surprise team of the spring place continues.

Ole Miss defeats Mississippi State, 3-0
Friday Ole Miss 4 Mississippi State 2
Saturday Ole Miss 12 Mississippi State 10
Sunday (7 inn.) Ole Miss 19 Mississippi State 11

Does defeating your rivals mean as much when they're a terrible team? Of course it does, and Ole Miss did just that in a weekend sweep over the Western Division Bulldogs, who have now given up more runs in SEC play than the number of hits allowed by Vanderbilt or South Carolina. (In fairness, Vanderbilt has played two fewer games than Mississippi State. But seeing as how the missed games were scheduled to be against Georgia, which is batting .260 in the SEC this year, it's hard to argue that has a great deal to do with anything.) Drew Pomeranz was Drew Pomeranz, striking out almost half the batters he faced (11 of 25) and allowing a single run in 6.1 innings. Mississippi State starter Tyler Whitney also gave up just one earned run -- but, alas, they count the unearned ones as well, and there were three of those after the Bulldogs defense committed four errors. Fun fact: There were 22 pitching appearances in Saturday and Sunday's game, which means there were more pitchers than innings. In fact, 11 pitchers didn't even last a single inning, most of them for Mississippi State -- which isn't a surprise, given the quick hook that's been shown by a certain manager before.

Florida defeats LSU, 3-0
Saturday Florida 7 LSU 3
Friday / Saturday Florida 8 LSU 5
Sunday Florida 13 LSU 6

LSU has now lost seven straight games, its longest losing streak in 28 years and a reason to begin to doubt that the Tigers can live up to predictions. Consider that this was supposed to the series for the SEC regular-season championship according to most predictions, but both teams are not even leading their divisions right now. (Florida is obviously much closer to that goal than the Tigers.) The only thing LSU did badly this past weekend was pitch -- but that means a great deal in this game. This is not a new problem for the Bengals; they are the only team in the SEC with a winning league record and an ERA of greater than 6.00 in SEC games (6.58). As for Florida, the sweep puts them within a game of South Carolina and keeps the SEC championship dreams alive and well for one preseason favorite. The other has not been so fortunate.

Tennessee defeats Kentucky, 2-1
Friday Kentucky 12 Tennessee 8
Saturday Tennessee 8 Kentucky 6
Sunday Tennesee 3 Kentucky 1

So let's rephrase one of the questions above slightly: Is it still something to celebrate when you defeat your rival even if both teams are terrible? I suppose so, seeing as how that's probably all you have to play for. Tennessee actually passed Kentucky by winning two out of three over the weekend, proving once and for all the age-old rule that if two teams play, one of them must win. (Please let there never be another Cardinals-Yankees World Series.) In any case, Kentucky and Tennessee left 45 men on base this weekend, saw five pitchers give up five or more runs in a single appearance and hit 11 batters, which is a high number even for the college game.

Vanderbilt defeats Georgia, 1-0
Friday Vanderbilt 17 Georgia 5
Saturday (suspended w/out result) Georgia 4 Vanderbilt 2
Sunday Canceled Canceled

Why were the last two games suspended and canceled? Well, look here and here if you need convincing that this was truly inclement weather. The Mayor sees the Saturday's suspended game as proof that Mother Nature is against the Dawgs. Of course, seeing as how the rainouts probably prevented a tragic collapse on Saturday and another Georgia loss on Sunday, you can argue this point either way. All of that humorous talk about baseball should not be seen as taking any seriousness away from the very real consequences of the flooding. Thoughts and prayers to the people of Nashville.

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