Rutgers isn’t a top-flight team like the Hurricanes are going to have to face later on in the season, but a sweep is a sweep.
Without further ado, my three up and three down for the weekend…
- Catcher Garrett Kennedy’s walk-off single on Saturday afternoon. This was a big moment on two levels. First, it was nice to see Miami fight back to win this game. Last season, their offensive struggles made it difficult for them to work from behind. Also, you have to feel good for a kid like Kennedy that struggled so mightily at the plate last season. Having him contribute as a hitter as well as a defensive catcher would be huge for this team, even if he is splitting time with Alex San Juan.
- Chris Diaz’s stellar start. With the Canes pitching staff a little thin thanks to a couple of costly injuries, they badly need Diaz to be a reasonable facsimile of a staff ace for a while. On Saturday afternoon, he was just that. He threw six innings, giving up five hits, one (unearned) run and one walk. He struck out five hitters and threw just 84 pitches. Had Jim Morris wanted to push him, Diaz probably could have given him one or two more innings.
- Contributions from new faces. The Canes needed some fresh blood in their lineup after a disappointing offensive year in 2012 and in the first weekend of 2013, it looks like they might get their wish. David Thompson, Christopher Barr, Alexander Hernandez, Brandon Lopez and Grant Heyman all contributed at some point during the series.
- Rain. Nothing ruins the excitement of opening night like rain. My bigger issue, though, is what it caused. I can’t stand seven-inning games in college baseball. I understand why Jim Morris wanted a shortened game, but I think these games hurt the sport in its quest to become legitimate in the eyes of casual fans.
- A.J. Salcines’ Saturday afternoon appearance. Garrett Kennedy’s clutch hit on Saturday afternoon was thrilling, but it shouldn’t have come to that. If Salcines is going to be the type of closer that this team needs, he is going to have to protect leads like the 3-1 lead the Canes had on Saturday afternoon.
- Hitting Brad Fieger seventh. Maybe it speaks to how much more depth Miami has this season, but Fieger is much better than a seventh hitter. Last season, he was the team’s most consistent hitter. I tend to not get too wrapped up in lineups because they are so fluid throughout the season, but his spot in the batting order stuck out to me and let’s be honest. If a player’s position in the batting order is one of my three downsides to the weekend, it must have been a pretty good weekend.