April 18, 2006
THE FLORIDA SERIES
When the Seminoles and Gators face off Wednesday night in Tallahassee, it will be the final regular season meeting of the year between the two rivals. Florida State took the first meeting earlier this season in Gainesville 6-4 and the rivalry is extremely even lately with FSU holding a slight edge in the last 17 games (9-8) but UF is 6-4 in the last 10 games between the schools. Florida State has had success in Tallahassee versus UF posting a 67-34-1 record at home versus the Gators. FSU has won 60% of the games in this series played in Tallahassee compared to just 45% in Gainesville. Last season the teams split the two meetings in Tallahassee but FSU has won eight of the last 10 games between the teams in its home stadium. The series dates back to 1956 and the two teams have played at least once every year since. The last 15 games have not been all that close with 10 of those 15 contests being decided by more than two runs. Overall, Florida State leads the series 111-89-1. The Gators are one of three teams FSU has defeated more than 100 times trailing Miami (131) and just ahead of Jacksonville (108).
TUESDAY: Michael Hyde will make his third straight mid-week appearance when he takes the hill versus the Gators. This will be the Tallahassee native¡¦s first chance to pitch against Florida as he has never seen any action versus UF in the previous six meetings between the teams. Hyde has put together back-to-back strong outings that both came in mid-week games versus JU. In his last two games Hyde is 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA. He has stuck out nine, walked six and limited opponents to a .239 batting average. He has allowed righties to hit just .182 against him in his last two games and opponents are just 2-for-16 in those contests with runners on base. His last outing versus JU was one of the best of his season as he limited the Dolphins to just one run in six innings of work. Hyde is the last undefeated starter for the Seminoles after all four of FSU¡¦s starters had perfect records just 11 games ago heading into the North Carolina series. The junior is 7-0 with a 3.92 ERA. He has fanned 28, walked 18 and held the opposition to a .245 batting average. Hyde is pitching very well against righties holding them to a .222 batting average this season and he is FSU¡¦s best starter pitching with runners on as teams hit just .190 off of him. Hyde has pitched very well since moving from a relievers role as he has held opponents to two runs or less in five of his seven starts. Hyde¡¦s first two appearances of the year came in relief but since then he has started seven straight times and posted a 6-0 record and 3.53 ERA. He has won each of his last three starts and has just one no decision as a starter this season. Hyde has pitched every game but one at home and has been very effective at Mike Martin Field. In Dick Howser Stadium Hyde is 6-0 with a 4.11 ERA. Teams hit just .221 off him at home and he is tied for the team lead in wins (6) and has the best record (6-0) of any Seminole hurler. He is holding right-handed hitters to a .194 average at home and teams are just 9-for-49 against him with runners on base. This will be the biggest start of the season for Hyde but the junior pitched in quite a few big games last year. He started games in both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments and had stellar outings each time. Versus Wake Forest in the ACC¡¦s and Army in the NCAA¡¦s, Hyde pitched 13 2/3 innings, allowed just two earned runs, walked only two batters and stuck out nine. Dating back to last season, Hyde has allowed three runs or less in nine of his last 12 starts. In those 12 starts beginning with Virginia May 1, 2005 Hyde is 7-0 as a starting pitcher with a 3.76 ERA 38 strikeouts and 26 walks. In fact Hyde¡¦s last loss as either a starter or a reliever came March 10, 2005 versus Hawaii. Since that game, Hyde has posted a record of 9-0 in his last 22 appearances. No current Seminole pitcher has gone longer the Hyde since suffering his last loss.
A LOT TO CHEER ABOUT
Everyone around Tallahassee is disappointed in this past weekend¡¦s series loss to Miami. It is a big rivalry and you never like to lose 2-of-3 to an ACC team especially an ACC rival from within your own state. But there is no reason to over react. Here are some reasons to feel good about where the Seminoles stand entering Wednesday¡¦s game with the Gators.
* Florida State still leads the nation in wins with 33 and is only .0023 percentage points behind Nebraska for the best record in America.
* Dennis Guinn didn¡¦t just return to the line-up earlier than expected but he made an immediate impact. The slugging first baseman hit .400 this weekend and drove in two more runs. All of his hits were singles but despite missing five games, Guinn is just three RBIs shy of being in the top 10 in the nation.
* While FSU may have lost two of its last three ACC series, the Seminoles are the only team in the top three for batting average and ERA in ACC games only.
* Bryan Henry and Tyler Chambliss are second and third behind just Andrew Miller for the top overall ERA¡¦s among all ACC pitchers. They are also first and second in wins and both are in the top seven for K¡¦s.
* FSU is the second-best fielding team in the ACC in overall and conference games. The team¡¦s .970 fielding percentage would rank as the second-best in school history and if it were to hold up, the Seminoles would field .967 or better in back-to-back season for just the second time in program history.
* The last time FSU lost a home ACC series (Georgia Tech in 2004) they followed it up with series wins at Clemson, at Virginia, versus Duke and at Wake Forest.
Coming into the 2006 season the FSU coaching staff said they had as many quality arms as they could remember and despite moving Tyler Chambliss to the starting rotation and losing Kevin Lynch, the bullpen would be a strength. Boy, were they right. The FSU pen has been called into action 38 times this season and in 30 of those games they have allowed two earned runs or less. In their last 16 appearances, the FSU bullpen has not issued a single walk 11 times and there have been just three games all season where the pen hasn¡¦t recorded at least one K. In the last 16 games the Seminole relievers have pitched 44 1/3 innings and posted a 2.03 ERA over that stretch. They have combined to strikeout 41 batters and issue just six walks. They have not lost a game in that span and are 2-0 with five saves. In their last 33 games since the Auburn series, there have been 16 games in which the FSU pen came in and did not allow an earned run.
STILL AMAZING US
Shane Robinson is back on another streak. Last year the reigning Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year set a school-record with a 40-game hit streak that ranked as the eighth longest in NCAA history. Now he will enter the Florida game Wednesday with a 26-game streak in toe. Robinson is the first player in Florida State history to record two hit streaks of 26 or more games in his career. Now he is going after college baseball history as well. The NCAA does not have a list of hit streaks beyond the top 10 but with 12 more hits Robinson can assure himself of being the only college baseball player in DI history with two hit streaks of 38 or more games.
FIT TO BE TY-ED
One of the biggest question marks surrounding the 2006 season was whether or not All-ACC closer Tyler Chambliss could make the transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Anyone have any questions now? Chambliss is leading the nation in wins right now with a 9-1 record and 1.80 ERA. Everyone around the FSU baseball teams knows that the junior should actually be 10-0 after a ninth inning defensive meltdown cost him a win at North Carolina. Only two other pitchers in America enter this week with as many wins as Chambliss and neither of them has an ERA as good as the Seminoles¡¦. Chambliss has been huge in one of the biggest situations for any team and that is following a loss. The junior is now 3-1 for Florida State following a defeat and he should be 4-0 if not for the aforementioned Tar Heels game. He is in the top eight of six different ACC categories for overall stats and in the top three for ERA, wins and innings pitched in conference games only.
The impressive rookie campaign for Buster Posey rolls on. The freshman is on fire at the plate as of late. Even though his career-best 12 game hit streak came to a close in the Miami series finale, Posey is proving his worth day in and day out. Only Shane Robinson has more multi-hit games than Posey this season and the freshman is tied for third on the multi-RBI games list as well. Posey and Dennis Guinn are the only two players in the top four on both the multiple RBI and hits lists. If you include hitting streaks as well, Guinn and Posey are the only two FSU players even in the top five on all three of those charts. Guinn and Posey have to be two of the biggest offensive additions for Florida State this season. The two have combined to hit .361, slug .579, drive in 82 runs with 34 extra base hits. Posey is already just six hits shy of the total base hits by last season¡¦s starting shortstops and he has equaled their RBI total as well. One of the big reasons for FSU¡¦s success so far in 2006 has been the increase in production at short and first. Guinn and Posey combined average more than one hit per game, almost .75 runs per game and over an RBI per game better than the four players (Danny Wardell, Nick Francis, Ryne Jernigan and Ryne Malone) who played those two positions in 2005.
Although FSU¡¦s has lost some of its production at the plate as of late, the 2006 Seminoles are still hitting the ball for power among the best clubs in team history. FSU has a team slugging percentage of .498, which would be the ninth-best in school history if the season ended today. The team averages 3.72 extra base hits per game with 86 doubles, 14 triples and 45 homeruns. FSU is now just 11 homers away from eclipsing the HR total from the entire 2005 season and five triples shy of beating out the 2005 team as well. This team¡¦s average of 1.15 homers per game would put the squad right on the cusp of the top 10 in a 73-game season. The last Seminole team to finish in the top 10 for doubles, triples and homers in the same season was the 1982 squad. At its current pace in a 73 game season, the 2006 Seminoles would finish the year in the top 10 in all three extra base hit categories for the first time in almost 25 years.
KUT DOWN ON THE K¡¦s
Florida State Head Coach Mike Martin made a point to mention that his team needed to cut down on its strikeouts if it wanted to reach its goals in 2006. The veteran coach has a point. Florida State has struck out 86 times in its last three weekend series. In those three ACC sets versus North Carolina, Boston College and Miami, FSU has fanned 25, 31 and 30 times respectively. Seminole batters have registered double digit K¡¦s in four of the last 11 games after not recording double digit strikeouts even once in the first 28 games of the season. In the last 11 games FSU is averaging almost nine K¡¦s per game compared to six strikeouts per game the team averaged the first 28 games of the year. When you strikeout that much, obviously it affects your offense as a whole. While FSU¡¦s competition has undoubtedly been tougher the since April began, the offensive numbers are suffering due to the high amount of strikeouts. The most disturbing number has to be the runs scored by the Seminoles who are averaging more than 3.5 runs less per game in the last 11 contests. FSU¡¦s offensive numbers are down across the board as the K¡¦s have increased. The team¡¦s batting average has dropped nearly 80 points, slugging percentage over 160 points and the team¡¦s on base percentage has fallen by more than 60 points. While all those numbers have fallen off the FSU pitchers have done their part to keep the Seminoles in games as the team¡¦s ERA of 2.67 over the last 11 games is better than what the staff posted (3.05) in the first 28 games of the season. The scariest decrease though is the winning percentage which has fallen by nearly 300 points in the last 11 games.
IT STARTED THAT WEEKEND
Heading into the North Carolina series on the last day of March FSU¡¦s starting pitchers were boasting a 24-0 record and a 2.69 ERA. Florida State¡¦s starting pitchers, Bryan Henry, Tyler Chambliss, Michael Hyde and Barret Browning, had struck out 163 and walked just 53. Since that day the Seminole starters have combined to go 6-4. FSU¡¦s level of competition has definitely increased the last month as two of the last three series have come versus top 25 teams and there have been two mid-week games versus a Jacksonville team that is dominating the A-Sun. The truth of the matter is the FSU starters are handling better competition pretty well. On top of a winning record overall, the Seminole starting pitchers have combined for a 3.26 ERA since the UNC series began. That is just over a half a run per game more than they allowed through the first 28 games of the season versus competition that wasn¡¦t nearly as tough as what they have faced as of late. The biggest difference though has probably been walks and Ks. After posting a K:BB ratio of better than 3:1 in the first 28 games, that number has dropped to 1.2:1 since then.
OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Seminole right fielder Jack Rye led FSU in batting average, runs scored, hits, doubles, homeruns, RBIs, total bases and walks as FSU went 2-2 versus in-state opponents Jacksonville and Miami. Rye batted .500 last week, slugged .750 and was on base almost 62% of the times. He scored six runs, had eight hits including a double and a homerun, five RBIs and five walks. He stole a base and also fielded 1.000. He recorded a hit in all four games, scored a run in each game and drew a walk in three of the four games. Rye torched lefties last week hitting .625 versus southpaws. He hit .625 with runners on base, 1.000 with the bases loaded and .750 with runners in scoring position. Had a huge series finale versus No. 14 Miami as Rye went 4-for-5 with four RBIs including a bases loaded, two-run single with two outs in the ninth cutting UM¡¦s lead to 7-5.
PITCHING PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
Florida State junior Tyler Chambliss had a strong outing in leading Florida State to its only win of the weekend versus No. 14 Miami. The junior did not allow an earned run as he limited the Hurricanes to just four hits. He allowed just one unearned run in the game and limited the Hurricane right-handers to just one hit all game. The Hurricanes went just 1-for-10 with runners on base versus the junior and it was the fewest runs scored by Miami this season since a 4-1 loss to Florida February 18.