After spending last weekend in Athens, and with no midweek games, the Florida Gators baseball team returns to Gainesville this week to begin a five game home stand.
The Gators start their quintet of contests at McKethan Stadium tonight, with a midweek match-up against Florida A&M, with freshman Andrew Baker making his first career start. Baker’s longest outing so far this season was the 2.2 innings he pitched against Florida State in March.
Florida then turns around and hosts Jacksonville tomorrow night. The Dolphins already bested the Gators, 3-2, in Jacksonville in an earlier season midweek game. And the Gators were to have had another shot at the Dolphins the following day, but that contest was postponed due to rain, so the make-up game between the two teams will happen on Wednesday.
Last weekend’s three-game series sweep of Georgia put Florida at 30-13 on the year. The Gators have now reached the 30-game win mark nine times in 10 seasons under Kevin O’Sullivan. Florida has certainly experienced some bumps along the road this season, but the Gators are on a nice little roll, winning their last ten of 12.
Florida is also now just one game back in the SEC standings from Kentucky, Auburn, and Mississippi State, who all sit at 14-7 in conference play. The Gators are 13-8 in the league, as are Arkansas, LSU, and Texas A&M, so the race for SEC regular season supremacy is a tight one.
Keep your eye on sophomore pitcher Michael Byrne this week. The right-hander has 11 saves on the year, which is second most in the SEC, and just two shy of the school record (set in 2016 by Shaun Anderson). He has also allowed just three of 19 inherited runners to score this season. Byrne closed out all three wins for Florida in their sweep of Georgia this past weekend.
Closing is particularly important for the 2017 Gators, who have played 21 one-run games so far this season; and amassed a 14-7 record in those contests. Last year Florida had just 17 one-run games all season in 68 total games.
After their two midweek games, this weekend’s action sees Florida hosting a three-game series with Ole Miss.
As always, this Weekly Open Thread is for any and all comments on any and all topics, with the rules of commenting decorum still in full effect.