KU went 1-3 this week. Looks bad, but as those who followed the weekend action in Columbia this weekend know that record could just have easily been reversed.
KU's record falls under .500 for the first time in since May 22, 2004. On that day the Jayhawks went into the final game of the 2004 campaign at 30-31-1. A win over K-State allowed the team to finish the year at .500. Today the Jayhawks rest at 16-17 (3-6 Big-12), and their record is actually a bit worse than that when the two NAIA wins are subtracted out.
The bullpen held up well this week. Despite giving up the winning runs Sunday to Missouri Paul Smyth had a positive week, pitching well on Wednesday and Friday. Wally Marciel recovered from a rough outing on Wednesday and pitched three shutout innings Sunday vs. Missouri to allow the Jayhawks to claw their way back into the game. The return of Garcia was very welcome and he pitched well in his two appearances. Esquibel continued to struggle.
On the offensive side, Kyle Murphy had a great week, raising his OPS fifty points to .850. He also hit his third homerun and drove in five. With 119 at bats even the skeptical have to accept that Murphy is the real deal, not a light hitter off to a good start. Allman's numbers dove as he nursed an injured hand without leaving the line-up. Ryne Price took over the team lead in homeruns by hitting his fifth, sixth and seventh this week. Unfortunately all were solo shots. Coach Price's plan to allow Preston Land to hit his way out of his slump did not produce magic this week, but Land did just miss a homerun Saturday night by a few feet. I'd be happy to see him hit more singles. Afenir had a great game Saturday (2 HR, 3 RBI) but the rest of his week was forgettable. Ellrich is slumping bad, while for some reason Kelling and Larson shined the pine all week. Joe Servais hit his first NCAA homerun on Saturday. On the radio it was reported that Price wanted to get Servais and Larson in more games.
Despite facing some damn fine pitchers this week the Jayhawks held their own at the plate. It would seem KU is one hot batter away from being a very good offensive club. The obvious candidates to step forward are Preston Land and Brock Simpson. Both are having very streaky seasons. Coach Price has moved them in and out of the line-up, and up and down in the batting order. Both are better than the numbers they are putting up so far this year. I expect to see each with OPS' over .800 before the end of May.
The Jayhawks play one more road game, Tuesday at Kansas State (7PM), before returning to Hoglund for an enormous series with Texas. Texas is ranked the #3 RPI team as of this morning and are demolishing the Big-12 competition. They are tied with Oklahoma State (5-1) for first place with a 7-2 record. The Longhorns and their migrating fans will be in Hoglund Friday (7PM), Saturday (7PM) and Sunday (1PM). If you can make any of these games, put forth the effort. Great baseball will happen.
5-4 Texas A&M
3-3 Kansas State
4-5 Texas Tech