After taking their third straight SEC series, earning the highest rankings the program has seen in some time, and then dropping Tuesday night's midweek game (with a controversial call involved), the Tigers are on the road for the next few weeks to continue trying to prove to the rest of the nation that they're for real.
This weekend, they're in College Station, TX to take on the Aggies of Texas A&M. It's the first of 8 games that will be played on the road over the next two weeks.
The Aggies are currently 20-10 overall, 3-6 in the SEC. They started the conference slate by being swept at home by the other surprise team in the SEC this year, Kentucky. They then dropped a series to Vandy in Nashville before taking 2 of 3 against LSU last weekend.
Auburn, meanwhile, is 7-2 in conference play and 23-8 overall. Auburn has yet to drop a weekend series this season and are ranked as high as 7th in the polls. What made last weekend's win over South Carolina even more impressive was that it was done without the services of ace Keegan Thompson.
That will not be an issue this weekend. Casey Mize remains in the Friday night role, but Keegan Thompson is coming back to the rotation to pitch Saturday night. I have a feeling he may be on a limited pitch count, but it's still excellent to have him back. A healthy Keegan Thompson makes this team a nightmare to face.
Given the ERAs, this looks to be in Auburn's favor. The ERAs go beyond the starters, of course. The Tigers' first two starters may be one of - if not THE - best one-two punch in the nation. Davis Daniel is a freshman who is showing signs of greatness, but he's still having growing pains. Cole Lipscomb in relief has been pretty excellent to normally guarantee at least one of the Friday or Saturday night games is a win for Auburn. After that, though, the bullpen is hit-or-miss with almost every pitcher having nights of brilliance and then nights where they struggle.
Statistically, this looks to be all in Texas A&M's favor. The Aggies haven't played a slacking schedule, either, as they have a victory over top ten Texas Tech and a close extra-innings loss to consensus #3 TCU. Auburn is going to need to get a lot of good work out of the ace starters and hope the bullpen can hold out. The Aggies have a number of good batters, led by Braden Shewmake who is hitting .365 with 12 doubles, 3 home runs, and 34 RBIs. They don't have a lot of home run hitters, but they're good at getting runners across the plate.
Auburn's leading hitter is Jonah "Joe Dirt" Todd, who is hitting .357 with 10 doubles. Jay Estes seems to be his partner in crime in that department with 9 doubles of his own. Senior Daniel Robert has been having a heck of a year at the plate, as well, batting .325 with a team-leading 26 RBIs (and also getting some work in on the mound, too). I point out the doubles because Auburn gets a lot of them. They currently have 64 on the season. The Tigers' also don't have a lot of home runs, but they have been very good at getting runners across the plate when they need to. This team has found every way imaginable to win this season.
Game 1: Friday, 6:30 pm Central, WatchESPN
Game 2: Saturday, 3:00 pm Central, No TV or Streaming.
Game 3: Sunday, 1:00 pm Central, WatchESPN