Friday, May 13, 2011

series preview: Miami

Date/Time: Fri-Sun, May 13-15; 5:00, 12:00, 12:30

TV: Saturday on regional networks; Fri. and Sun. on UVA website video

History against the Canes: 12-18

Last matchup: UVA 12, Miami 8; 5/29/10; Greensboro, NC (ACC tournament)

Last game: UVA 14, VCU 3 (5/3); Hofstra 5, Miami 0 (5/8)

Last weekend: UVA bye; Miami 2-1 series win over Hofstra

National rankings:

Baseball America: UVA #1; Miami #16
Collegiate Baseball: UVA #1; Miami #16
NCBWA: UVA #2; Miami #24
Perfect Game: UVA #1; Miami #19
Coaches: UVA #1; Miami #23
Composite: UVA #1; Miami #18

RPI: UVA #1; Miami #22

(Sorry, not my fault I didn't post yesterday.  Blogger's fault.  You know those commercials that try to push cloud computing on you and tell you how wonderful it is?  This is why those are bullshit.)

If the weather cooperates this should be one of those magical Charlottesville spring weekends.  Miami is typically one of baseball's best teams and they just tacked on another couple of seats to Davenport so another attendance record is the goal.

Miami continues to be a team strong on pitching and not so strong on hitting, though their hitting has improved through the course of the ACC season.  In fact, this week's pitching matchups might be the best of the season.  Other teams have brought better aces to the hill, but nobody's sent us a lineup of three starters like we'll see this weekend.  Friday is a battle of lefties; Sunday starter E.J. Encinosa has limited opposing hitters to a .193 batting average.  All three of them have 60+ strikeouts.  It's a daunting task, made harder by the exam break that always seems to wreak havoc on our batters' eyes.

The Canes will likely make every attempt to turn singles into doubles by stealing the extra base.  Three of their players have double-digit steals.  And leadoff hitter Zeke DeVoss is outstanding at what he does, batting .305 with a .469 OBP thanks to his 45 walks, and he's stolen a whopping 28 bases.  (Nobody on UVA, despite our propensity to take off, has more than 11.)  Our catchers have cut down more than half of opponents' basestealers, but they'll be sorely tested this weekend.

Miami's other standout hitters are DH Rony Rodriguez, with eight home runs, and CF Nathan Melendres, batting .343.  The Canes don't rely on the long ball to score, but Rodriguez has some major pop and most of their lineup is capable of going deep if they find a bad pitch they like.  Mainly, though, the Canes will try to advance and score their base-stealers by alternating them in the lineup with line-drive hitters.

The results of the weekend might rely primarily on how the Hoos bounce back from the week off, which historically hasn't been kind.  Miami's excellent starting rotation will make it tough, but at some point in the weekend they'll probably call on a reliever with a 5+ ERA; the pen has some good arms and some not-so-good ones.  I'd be mightily surprised to see a sweep of any kind, but losing or winning 2-1 each seem equally likely.

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