Note: This will serve as the game thread if you want to talk about tonight's game. You can follow all the games via GameTracker, or streaming video on wsucougars.com for a nominal fee. We'll have game threads for tomorrow and Sunday, too. Saturday's game will be on FSN! Hooray!
If it seems like every series is a big one for the Cougs, it's because that's the nature of the Pac-10 this year. We like to think of this team as pretty good, but a quick look at the standings above shows that this "pretty good" WSU baseball team -- which, incidentally, took two of three from the No. 1 team in the country -- is in need of some wins this weekend.
The thing about this? They could just as easily be 5-4 after losing two games with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. But such is baseball, and such is life in the hyper-competitive Pac-10. No less than eight teams are ranked, including this weekend's opponent, Oregon State. The Beavers are also 3-6 in the conference, so this weekend's series could go a long way toward determining which of these teams ends up making it into the NCAA Tournament this summer.
|Time (PDT)||WSU Starter||ASU Starter||GameTracker|
|FRIDAY||5:30 p.m.||RH Chad Arnold (3-2, 3.34 ERA, 1.2641 WHIP, 44 K, 59 1/3 IP)||RH Greg Peavey (3-0, 2.36 ERA, 1.013 WHIP, 47 K, 53 1/3 IP)||Here|
|SATURDAY||2 p.m.||LH David Stilley (1-1, 6.59 ERA, 1.683 WHIP, 4 K, 13 2/3 IP)||LHP Tanner Robles (4-3, 2.44 ERA)||Here|
|SUNDAY||Noon||TBA||RHP Sam Gaiviglio (1-1, 5.66)||Here|
What to expect out of the Beavers? Well, they're basically like WSU, but with a little better pitching and a little worse hitting. Their team OPS is just .764, which trails the Cougs by a significant margin, and they're near the bottom of the league in runs scored and last in total bases. They're not blowing anyone out, and aren't going to put up crooked numbers in Pullman.
What's allowed them to still win games is a very good pitching staff. "Dominant" isn't really the word that comes to mind, but they're full of guys who pound the strike zone to make hitters uncomfortable -- they're just middle of the pack in strikeouts, but are 4th in the league in ERA and third in opponents' batting average. They've allowed the second lowest amount of walks in the league, and have allowed the fewest home runs of any pitching staff in the league.
Even when you don't strike out a lot of guys, keeping guys off the bases and then not allowing them to put it over the fence is a good strategy for success.
To be honest, anything less than winning two out of three against OSU this weekend would be considered a failure. OSU is reeling -- having lost five in a row -- and the Cougs have been very good at home. WSU truly needs to make hay this weekend, and if they can win tonight, I like their chances. If they lose tonight ... well, let's just say the state of our rotation doesn't inspire confidence that they can get the next two. David Stilley would have to show something he hasn't yet, and while that's possible (since he's still recovering from injury), I wouldn't count on it.
One thing to give you hope tonight? While OSU's starter tonight, Greg Peavey, has been flat dominant this year, he's got a 7.15 ERA in 11 starts and 39 innings on the road. Most of that was compiled over the past two years when he wasn't nearly as good as he's been this year, but still -- reason to believe he can be gotten to.