In their first weekend of top tier competition KU was swept by the Stanford Cardinal. I think the harshest lesson was given to the starting pitching staff which was exposed in its first encounter against a strong line-up. Of the three starts, Ashwood (Gamescore 38) largely overcame a horrible first inning but still ended up with a loss and a subpar pitching line; Czyz pitched well for six innings but lost steam in the seventh (Gamescore 50) and so ended up with only an average final line for what was a much more impressive effort; and, Andy Marks could not overcome a 5 run third inning meltdown and suffered through his first ineffective game (Gamescore 24). Overall the KU starting rotation had an ERA of 8.60 in Stanford.
The bullpen held up better than the starting corp. Smyth had two more excellent appearances, and Esquibel, Garcia and Marcin also made positive contributions. Only Marciel appeared to be off his game. Hayakawa did not make an appearance.
The Jayhawk performance at the plate was encouraging as the team averages did not decline while facing more talented pitchers. In three games they scored 12 runs against what appears to be a pretty decent pitching staff. In those games they collected 29 hits, 11 walks and 7 hit by pitches. Preston Land hit his first homerun of the year, and John Allman and Kyle Murphy remained hot at the plate. Only Brock Simpson and Justin Ellrich had a rough weekend. KU is scoring an average of 6.0 runs per game. For the team to compete in the Big-12 with the pitching staff performing at its current level the offense is going to need to set up another level. A team OPS of .800 and 7+ runs per game in non-conference encounters should be the goal at this point.
Next up, a single game at Oral Roberts Tuesday at 3:00PM. Oral Roberts (3-5) made the NCAA tournament last year and will be a tough opponent. If KLWN doesn't make the trip to broadcast the game Oral Roberts provides a free webcast here. I expect Esquibel will get the start.