Hot starts, solid pitching key for Texas

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Freshman Travis Duke pitches against UTPA last month. Duke pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the 6-1 victory. The pitching staff has been strong this season but needs more help from the offense to get wins. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas baseball team doesn’t always win but when it does, it prefers to jump out to an early lead. Led by a strong pitching staff that features three workhorse starters, the Longhorns have been all but unbeatable this year when playing with a lead.

In fact, they have only lost once in 2013 after getting up on an opponent. The key then for head coach Augie Garrido is to find ways to score runs early so his pitchers can be aggressive on the mound. This has not come easily for the Longhorns this year, as hitting has been a constant problem. What then can Texas do to provide an offensive boost? Common baseball knowledge would be to adopt a strategy of small ball, which relies on manufacturing runs by sacrifice bunting and hitting with runners in scoring position. Small ball has long been Garrido’s M.O. and while it has worked in the past, it has not provided the necessary production for the Longhorns the past two seasons. This offense does not have to be great in order to give Texas a chance to win. Rather, it has to be just good enough at the right times, namely early in games. If the Longhorns adopt a more aggressive mindset out of the gate, they could do some serious damage in the Big 12. Here is a closer look at why this Texas team is so good with a lead:

5: The number of Texas pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings and have an earned run average below 4.00. This group includes all three starting pitchers in Parker French, Dillon Peters and Nathan Thornhill. This is a critical component of this team and a clear indicator of why it is essential that the Longhorns gain an early advantage on their opponents. If Texas’ hitters can manage to give these pitchers any type of consistent run support, they will take care of the rest.

4: The magic number for the Longhorns’ offense. Texas is undefeated this year when it has scored four or more runs, giving the team a perfect 12-1 record in such games. Conversely, the Longhorns are an ugly 4-10 when they fail to score more than three times.

1: The number of times Texas has lost this year when holding a lead at any point in the game. The Longhorns are 7-1 when leading after one inning and a whopping 13-0 when leading after six innings. To put it simply, this team does not give up leads once it has them.

0: The number of comeback wins the Longhorns have when trailing after seven innings. Although it is common for teams to have trouble overcoming late deficits, this has been a problem for Texas at all stages of the game. The team is 1-4 when trailing after one inning and 1-7 when trailing after four, clear evidence that its hitters must take a more aggressive approach to start games.