The weekday single-game series is one of college baseball’s particular quirks. The season is built on three-game weekend series, giving teams a week to scout their opponents and get in the zone to go to war for a weekend. The weekday one-off throws off the rhythm of this pattern, and you can’t blame a team if they ignore the one-off in favor of the longer upcoming battle. But there are exceptions. Cal versus Stanford is one of them.
It’s hard to imagine the Bears will be overlooking Tuesday’s matchup as they should be rearing for the short fight. The bad news for Cal: the Cardinal is hungry, and right now the Bears are looking like a short and meaty snack.
Stanford was ranked eleventh in the nation a week ago, but after a sweep at the hands of No. 1 Oregon State, they have fallen to No. 21 — a heavy penalty for losing to the presumptive kings of the country. The Cardinal looked like a good match for the Beavers in game one of their series, a 3-1 loss that went right down to the wire, as Oregon State didn’t score their third run until the ninth inning.
But the next two games were evidence of the separation between the two squads, as the Beavers ran away with 15-7 and 7-0 wins. But even those games were somewhat close — the second game was 8-7 in the Beavers’ favor late before a comical seven-run top of the eighth. And in the finale, although there’s no such thing as a good way to be shutout, Stanford came as close as possible, recording nine hits to Oregon State’s eight.
All of this is to say, Stanford should be confident from the silver linings and the sweep, and should be looking for someone to place their frustrations with the result. And who better than the rival Bears?
Stanford boasts little power in their lineup, with only two players slugging over .400, one of whom has only played in half of the Cardinal’s games. Junior outfielder Quinn Brodey is the heart of their lineup, slugging .510 and knocking in 23 of the team’s 80 RBI this season, with no other player having more than 10.
The Cardinal will be starting freshman Erik Miller on the bump. His ERA sits at 4.15, but that was inflated by a full run in one disastrous outing against Oregon State. Chances are it will start to fall back to its previous level against Cal.
Cal will also be turning to a freshman, Rogelio Reyes, on the mound. Reyes has started three games this season while making three relief appearances. He’s looked strong on the mound against the weaker portion of Cal’s schedule, but was knocked around against No. 6 Texas Tech and UCLA. He let up eight earned runs in less than six innings of work against those two squads and three earned runs in 11.2 innings pitched otherwise. The difference between those is a 12.71 ERA and a 2.31. Chances are he’ll find himself somewhere in the middle of that 10-point range. The Bears will hope he’s closer to the latter if they’re to deny Stanford their midweek meal.