April 3, 2006 - by
GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Fourth-Ranked Seminoles Host JU Tuesday Night At 6:00 p.m.

April 3, 2006

FREE Live Audio Broadcast | Game Tracker | JU Game Notes

Florida State leads the all-time series against Jacksonville 106-33. The 106 victories versus JU are the second-most against a non-ACC opponent for Florida State (Florida 110). Florida State has a 70-10 record against the Dolphins in Tallahassee and has not lost at home since May 1, 1991 (22-0). Florida State has won 14 straight games dating back to April 10, 2002. In that streak, the Seminoles have outscored the Dolphins 145-44. Florida State’s current winning streak is the second longest against JU, as they had an 18 game winning streak from 1980-2002. During that streak, FSU has scored double digit runs eight times and in five of the last seven games. Since starting the home-and-home series in 1993, Florida State has swept the series 14 times and tied it on three other occasions. Florida State has not lost a season series to Jacksonville since 1972, when Jacksonville had their longest winning streak in the rivalry (3 games). Throughout the series, Florida State has thrown 13 shutouts, most recently a 9-0 victory March 23, 2005. The series has gone into extra innings only twice, with Florida State coming out on top in both games. 

2006 FSU JU
Games 31 32
Rec. 27-4 23-9
Avg. .322 .315
Runs 274 247
Hits 348 354
Dbls 73 70
Trpls 14 4
HRs 38 21
RBIs 256 220
Slg % .520 .440
BB 158 166
K 197 189
SB 54 54
ERA 3.12 3.28

Michael Hyde will make his first mid-week start since a win over Mercer at home March 7. Hyde has been FSU’s best mid-week starter posting a 1-0 record in mid-week games with a stellar 1.80 ERA. While he has made just one appearance, Hyde held the Bears to a .118 team batting average in that game as he allowed just two hits and one run in five innings of work. Hyde’s last start came against Duke March 26 when he picked up his fifth win of the season after throwing five innings and allowing four runs. Hyde has only pitched more than five innings once in five starts this year but he also only lasted less than five innings on one occasion in those five starting assignments. The junior has issued 11 walks and struck out 14 batters since moving into a starting role versus Minnesota February 25. Every one of Hyde’s appearances this season has come at home where he was 4-1 last year with a 3.71 ERA. Despite an ERA of 5.06 this season, the Tallahassee native has held opponents to a .248 batting average. Teams do have 10 extra base hits off the right-hander including two homeruns as opponent’s slug .386 off of him. Hyde has pitched very well with runners on base holding teams to a .213 average in those situations and with two outs in an inning he has a team best .156 opponent batting average. Hyde is putting 37% of lead-off runners aboard but other than that one area he has been solid statistically everywhere else. This will be an important start for Hyde who has struggled somewhat in his last three appearances. In three starts versus Maryland, Virginia Tech and Duke, Hyde has a 6.08 ERA with an opponent batting average of .309. He has just a 1:1 K:BB ratio in those games and seven of his 10 extra base hits have come in just those three outings as teams are slugging .509 against him in that span. If you look at Hyde’s numbers in his first four appearances of the year, he was 3-0 with a 4.05 ERA but teams were hitting just .174 against him and in 46 at bats they had just three extra base hits (all doubles). Since then opponents have five doubles and two homeruns in 55 at bats. His K:BB ratio was 2.5:1 at the start of the season and in the exact number of innings (13.1) he has given up three more runs, walked two more batters and fanned five less over his last three appearances.

The Seminoles, whose last loss to the Dolphins (Feb. 24th, 2002) came at Alexander Brest Field, once again took the trip across I-10 to face their cross-state rivals. Florida State was held to only five hits but it was enough to take home a 4-1 victory. In that game, Florida State used solid pitching from Barret Browning, Brent Marsh and Luke Tucker to help keep the Dolphins at bay.  Browning threw 5 2/3 innings, striking out three and giving up only one run. Marsh and Tucker combined for 3 2/3 innings, striking out three, giving up no runs and only one hit. Tucker earned his fifth save of the season and Browning improved his record to 5-0. Buster Posey led the Seminoles by going 2×3 with two runs and a stolen base and Ryan Strauss hit a bases-loaded, two-run double in the fourth to open up a 1-0 game and give the Seminoles some insurance runs, as they increased their lead to 4-0. Jacksonville looked to mount a comeback in the sixth, as they recorded two singles before Browning plunked a batter to load the bases. He walked the next batter, putting the Dolphins on the board and ending the shutout bid. Browning would go on to be relieved by Marsh, who went on to set a season high with 2 2/3 innings pitched. 

In two home games against the Dolphins last year, Florida State batted .397 and hit six homeruns. Ryne Malone led the long-ball show with two and Tony Thomas Jr., Bryan Henry, Shane Robinson and Brant Peacher each had one. The home runs were the first of their career for Henry and Thomas. The Seminole pitching staff combined for a 4.50 ERA, which was less than half of what the Dolphins posted (10.69). Matt DiBlasi, Kevin Lynch, Tyler Chambliss and Ryan Strauss combined to throw 5 1/3 innings of two hit ball, to go along with seven strikeouts and no runs given up. The seven strikeouts by the four relievers were only two less than the entire Dolphins pitching staff (9). Florida State also used their speed to move around the bases as they were a perfect 3-for-3 in the stolen base category. 

Shane Robinson hit .500 (5×10), had two doubles, one homerun, two RBIs and a stolen base for the Seminoles in the two home games versus JU. Tony Thomas Jr. was one of three Seminoles to record three RBIs in those two meetings, as he also hit .571 and had a home run. Bryan Henry batted a perfect 1.000 (2×2), with one of those at bats being a home run. Tyler Chambliss and Matt DiBlasi both were perfect giving up no runs and just one hit in a combined three inning performance. Mark Sauls threw six innings, scattered six hits, struck out three and gave up only two runs as he earned his fourth win of the season. 
While everyone always looks forward to the big weekend series, mid-week games are a crucial part of any team’s success. As a ranked team, you are often facing an opponent’s top pitcher who has been held back to try and get a big win versus one of the nation’s best. Even if you aren’t facing that clubs No. 1 guy it is usually the case that you are playing an unranked opponent with a conference series looming just days away. Mid-week games are traps for many Top 25 teams. Just look at last week for example. No. 6 Nebraska lost to Northern Colorado. No. 15 Oklahoma lost to Dallas Baptist. No. 23 Tennessee lost to East Tennessee State. That was just last week. A lot of credit has to be given to this year’s Seminoles who have gone 5-0 in mid-week games especially when you consider two were played on the road and two came against ranked opponents (Florida and Winthrop). The Seminoles have dominated statistically when it comes to their five mid-week games. They have out hit their mid-week opponents .310 to .253 and outscored them 42-17. You have to give a lot of credit to the Seminole pitching staff as well. FSU has a 3.00 ERA and an opponent batting average of just .253 in those five games. Compare that to the Seminole opponents that have posted an 8.14 ERA and allowed the FSU batters to hit at a .310 clip. One of the biggest reasons for the Seminoles’ success in mid-week games is clutch hitting. FSU is batting .396 with runners in scoring position compared to just .226 for opponents.

Nine Seminole hitters are batting over .315 in mid-week games but nobody is hitting better than Ryan McArdle. Although it has been in limited at bats, McArdle is hitting .500 and slugging .750 in five mid-week games. Of the Seminole starters, Ryan Strauss leads the team with a .455 batting average and a .909 slugging percentage on top of four RBIs. Strauss has three extra base hits including a homer and he is batting .571 with runners on. If you are talking about driving in runs, no Seminole has been better than Danny Diaz. In five mid-week games, Diaz leads all Seminoles with eight RBIs. The catcher is hitting .357 and slugging .571. Buster Posey has also been very dangerous at the plate mid-week. The freshman is hitting .400 with six RBIs. He has scored a team-best seven runs and leads the team with eight hits. Part of the reason for Posey’s success is a perfect 1.000 batting average versus left-handers (4×4). Although Dennis Guinn is hitting below his season average in mid-week games (.318) he has been a nightmare for opponents with seven RBIs and a team-best four extra base hits (two doubles and two homers). He has also scored six times. Ryne Malone has been one of FSU’s best clutch hitters in mid-week games this year as he is hitting .500 with runners on base and with runners in scoring position.

As far as the pitching staff goes, the Seminole relievers have been brilliant this year as they have pitched in every one of the five mid-week games. Overall, the Seminole bullpen has posted a 2.00 ERA, picked up two saves and a win in mid-week contests. This group has a K:BB ratio of 10:1 striking out 20 and allowing just two free passes. Luke Tucker, Brian Chambers, Matt DiBlasi and Mark Sauls have combined to throw eight innings of shutout ball. Tucker has both of FSU’s saves. Brent Marsh has a 1.80 ERA in three mid-week appearances and has fanned three batters while not issuing a single walk. Travis Burge has the highest ERA of the group in mid-week games (5.40) but he also has the bullpen’s only win.

This past weekend’s series loss to North Carolina was a tough one for the Seminoles. Not so much that they narrowly lost the series to a very good Carolina squad but more so how they lost the series. The ninth-inning errors Saturday that allowed the Heels to secure the series was devastating but FSU showed a lot of heart on Sunday. The Seminoles didn’t just bounce back to win the game they won a close game that saw the lead go back and forth and also saw Carolina put the tying run in scoring position in the eighth with one out. The Seminoles proved how well they could rebound after a heart-breaking loss on Sunday now they get a chance to prove how they can rebound from a tough series loss. If history is any indication, this team will respond. The last time FSU lost a three-game series and followed that with a mid-week loss was 1993 when the Seminoles followed a 2-1 series loss at Clemson with a loss at Jacksonville. Under Mike Martin the Seminoles have shown how well they can bounce back from a tough series. Last season FSU responded to a series sweep versus Hawaii by winning six straight. After being swept at Georgia Tech the Seminoles rebounded with a win versus Florida and after dropping the final series of the season to NC State, FSU opened the ACC Tournament with a victory over the Tar Heels. In 2004 FSU was swept by Arizona State and went on to win eight straight, the Seminoles lost four in a row to Miami and rebounded by beating the Canes and Gators in back-to-back games and also was swept by Georgia Tech only to go on and win the first two of a three game series at Clemson. The last time FSU lost a series in Chapel Hill (2002) they bounced back by beating an A-Sun opponent (Mercer) at home.

Shane Robinson is back to his old ways in 2006. The reigning Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year and consensus first team All-American is in the midst of an 18-game hit streak, the longest by a Seminole in 2006. Last year Robinson made national news when he posted a 40-game hit streak, with 35 of those games coming in one season. With his current 18-game run, Robinson now has the two longest single season hit streaks since Ryan Barthelemy put together a 19-game hit streak in 2002. If Robinson records a hit in the next two games and runs this current streak to 20, he will have the two longest hit streaks since 2000 when Chris Smith put together a 25-game hit streak.

The junior isn’t just hitting, as usual, he is continuing to make things happen. Robinson has reached base to leadoff a game 16 times this season for FSU and the Seminoles have posted a record of 15-1 in those games. Not only is FSU winning but the team scores more when Robinson gets the offense going early. In the 15 games where Robinson did not reach in his first at bat the Seminoles are 12-3 and have scored 109 runs compared to 15-1 with 165 runs when he gets on board in the first. It isn’t just a predictor of team success either. Robinson is hitting .460 in those 16 games and he has scored 33 of his 43 runs as well. When Robinson doesn’t make it on base in his first at bat he is hitting .318 for the season and averaging just .67 runs per game compared to 2.1 runs per game in the other 16 contests. In games where Robinson reaches in the first he has twice as many walks (12 versus 6) and half as many K’s (4 versus 8). He is also 15-for-15 on steals in those 16 games compared to 3-for-4 in the other 15.

  Gms Avg Runs RBI SLG BB K OB% SB
Reaches  16 .460 33 12 .698 12 4 .538 15
Doesn't Reach 15 .318 10 8 .470 6 8 .384 3

With a 2-2 showing last week the Seminoles passed the mid-way point of the season with a 27-4 record. That is a pretty popular mark. Five of the last 11 FSU teams have gone 27-4 through the first 31 games of a season.  Over that 11-year span only one FSU team has gotten off to a better start and that was the 1999 squad that went 28-3, just one game ahead of this year. While getting off to a good start is important, how you finish the regular season is even more crucial. After playing 31 games, only one Seminole team in the last six years has finished the regular season with a winning percentage above .700. In this 11-year span, four FSU squads have been able to win over 70% of their games down the stretch. The 2002 Seminoles had the best run in the second half posting a .781 winning percentage as that team had the most wins (25) and the fewest losses (7). Only one Seminole squad since 1996 has failed to go at least .600 in the second half and that was the 2003 team.

Regular Season Finishes
2005 21-12 .636
2004 14-11 .560
2003 20-14-1 .586
2002 25-7 .781
2001 17-8 .680
2000 16-9 .640
1999 18-7 .720
1998 21-9 .700
1997 18-7 .720
1996 16-9 .640

When you go against the UNC pitching staff hits are going to come at a premium and that was the case for FSU last weekend. The Seminoles batted just .212 in the three-game series versus the Heels, the lowest batting average for an FSU team in a three-game set since the team hit .148 versus NC State in 2003. North Carolina pitching also did a great job versus a Seminole team that came into the series averaging a homerun every 26 at bats. The Heels were the first team in 2006 to hold FSU without a homer in a three-game series as Florida State did not go yard once in 99 at bats. Ironically FSU will face the only other opponent it hasn’t homered against Tuesday when JU comes to town as the Dolphins held FSU without a homerun in their only meeting earlier this season. The fact FSU didn’t homer versus UNC isn’t too surprising since the UNC pitchers the Seminoles faced had combined to allow just seven homeruns all season. The Dolphin staff has allowed 21 homers in 32 games this season.

While the Seminole baseball team is over halfway through its regular season, the Major Leaguers got things started for the most part on Monday. One game took place Sunday night and it was a big one for FSU fans. Not just because Ruairi O’Connor’s beloved White Sox opened the season with a win but because of former Seminole Eduardo Perez. Perez, a Seminole from 1989-1991, hit the first homerun of the 2006 MLB season went he went yard in the top of the first off of Chicago starter Mark Buehrle. Perez is one of five Seminoles on opening day rosters. Matt Diaz (Atlanta), J.D. Drew (LA Dodgers), Doug Mientkiewicz (Kansas City), Scott Proctor (NY Yankees) and Perez (Cleveland) are all on active rosters. Two other Seminoles, Paul Wilson (Cincinnati) and Marshall McDougall (Texas), opened the year on the 15-day DL.

Matt Diaz  Atlanta
JD Drew   LA Dodgers
Doug Mientkiewicz Kansas City
Marshall McDougall* Texas
Scott Proctor  NY Yankees
Paul Wilson*  Cincinnati
Eduardo Perez  Cleveland
*on the 15-day DL

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