There was one out in the fourth inning – Oakland ahead at that point just 1-0. Athletics’ starter Daniel Mengden missed over the middle of the plate with a 1-1 fastball, and Cardinal slugger Marcell Ozuna jumped on it, sending a soaring fly ball to nearly the deepest part of the park. And that is where Oakland centerfielder Mark Canha stood waiting for it – just a step to the rightfield side of the 400’ mark in center.
Are their parks in the league that that fly ball would go out of? Almost assuredly. Busch’s dimensions are very moderate these days, but for whatever reason – humidity, perhaps? – Busch Stadium continues to play very big. This, in fact, continues to be the defining difference between this team when it plays at home as opposed to when it plays on the road. In other parks, the ball goes out. In St Louis it just doesn’t. It has been that way here for as long as I can remember.
In the just concluded 9-game homestand, St Louis hit 7 home runs in 312 at bats (one HR per 45 at bats). In the 9 games they had a team slugging percentage of just .337. They also hit just .224, and scored just 3.22 runs per game.
They have now finished the home portion of the month of June. In their 13 home games this month (of which they’ve managed to win 7), St Louis has hit just 12 home runs, scored 3.23 runs per game, hit for a .232 average and slugged .353. To this point, they have played three fewer games on the road this month than at home, but are scoring 4.20 runs per game on the road, and have hit as many home runs (12) despite having 108 fewer at bats on the road in June.
For the season, the Cardinals have played 5 more games on the road than at home (42-37), but have hit 15 more home runs away from home (55-40) in spite of having 103 fewer road at bats. The team, whose slugging percentage at home (.382) is the third worst in the league, averages 1 home run for every 34.5 at bats at home – vs one per every 23.2 at bats on the road (where they are slugging .419).
A lot of the numbers that explain winning and losing in baseball are pretty straight forward. You can score a healthy amount of runs without hitting home runs. That has been done here in St Louis in the past.
But you can’t do it while hitting .246 (St Louis’ current season-long average at home). You have to get hit to put hits together.
As visible as the difference in the offense is, the gap between the Cardinals’ pitching – especially the starting pitching – boarders on mind-boggling.
In the just concluded home-stand, St Louis got quality starts in 6 of the 9 games, with the starters throwing 53.2 innings (coming one out short of averaging 6 innings per). They combined for a 3.02 ERA, a .248 batting average against, and they walked just 9 batters (1 intentionally) over the home-stand.
For the month of June, in their 13 home games, Cardinal starters have 8 quality starts, a 2.78 ERA, and a .238 batting average against.
For this same month, in their 10 road games, they have managed 3 quality starts, with a 5.29 ERA and a .295 batting average against.
In 42 home games this season so far, the starters have produced 22 quality starts, have pitched 244 innings, posted a 16-12 record, courtesy of a 3.25 ERA and a .243 batting line against. They have allowed 33 home runs in Busch – an average of 1.22 per nine innings.
The 37 road games have seen them manage just 13 quality starts, pitch just 184.1 innings, put together a 9-16 record with (and this is not a typo) a 5.61 ERA. The batting line against them away from home is an unimpressive .285/.362/.493. Additionally, they have seen 34 longballs hit against them on the road – 1.66 per nine innings.
It’s hard to imagine that any team in baseball has a larger gap between starters’ ERA at home and on the road. The home run differential is only a small piece of the puzzle. The team’s 16-21 road record includes a combined 2-11 mark in Chicago and in Milwaukee. These two teams are averaging 6.15 runs per game against the Cardinals when we play in there ballpark. Without much debate, most of our worst moments this season have come on the road in Chicago and Milwaukee. At home against these two clubs, St Louis sports a perfect 6-0 record, holding them to just 2.67 runs per game.
The good news is that St Louis will have just one more road series each in Milwaukee and Chicago.
Although the tough-luck loser last night (box score), Adam Wainwright pitched another excellent game – allowing just the two runs over 6.2 innings. In four June starts, Waino is now 1-2, but with a 2.96 ERA.
Three of his starts this month have come at home, where he has fashioned a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings, with last night’s home runs the only ones he allowed at home in June.
He made one road start this month, losing in Chicago on June 9 by a 5-1 score. He lasted just 4.1 innings that day, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits.
For the season, Adam has made 8 starts at home, giving us 5 quality starts, a 4-2 record, and a 2.68 Busch ERA. Holding with the team-wide pattern, Waino has started 7 road games, with 2 quality starts, a 1-5 record, coupled with a 6.56 ERA.
Another day, another scoreless effort from Giovanny Gallegos. That’s 13 in a row. Over his last 15.1 scoreless innings, Giovanny has allowed 8 hits (5 singles and 3 doubles) walked nobody, struck out 18, and stranded 11 of the 13 runners he inherited. The batting line against him during that stretch is .157/.170/.216. He has thrown 72% of his pitches for strikes, and has a swing-and-miss percentage of 36%.
Of all the pitchers on the staff, no one has risen to the road challenge the way that Gallegos has. Giovanny has worked in 15 road games, pitching 20.1 innings. He holds a 1.77 ERA in those games, with a .138/.186/.215 batting line. Gallegos has a strikeout-to-walk ratio on the road of 28 (12.39 per nine innings) to 4 – with one of the 4 being intentional. He is unintentionally walking just 1.33 batters per nine road innings.
Looking for a spark, Tommy Edman led-off during the last game of the home stand. Tommy responded with two hits, but nothing came of them.
Playing in his very first homestand in the major leagues, Tommy played in 7 of the 9 games, starting 2. He was 7 for 13 (.538), including a triple and a clutch home run – leaving him with a .923 slugging percentage at Busch.
Paul DeJong collected a couple of hits in the first game of the homestand. Thereafter, he was just 4 for 34 (.118). For the entire homestand, he had just 2 extra-base hits (both doubles) and 2 runs batted in and slugged .211. He is down to .222 for the month.
Paul might actually be looking forward to getting on the road. He finished June hitting just .170 at Busch, while he’s hit .297 on the road this month. Four of his 5 June home runs have come on the road, and 9 of his 13 on the season have been road homers.
After looking like he was about to explode out of his protracted slump, Jose Martinez has slipped back a bit, going 2 for 16 (.125) over the last 4 games. He has no walks and 5 strikeouts in those games. It’s been a rough month for Jose, who is now hitting .224 in June.
Going on the road has not always been beneficial for Jose. He is 3 for 17 (.176) this month away from home, and a .247 road hitter on the year.
Yadier Molina has been popped right back into the lineup after his injury. He has had moments, but hasn’t really looked like himself. In the 15 games since he’s been back, Yadi has had 59 plate appearances. They have produced just 11 singles, 3 doubles, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts, and 2 double-play grounders. He has driven in just 2 runs since he’s been back, with a .246/.271/.298 batting line.
He was 0-for-4 yesterday, and hit just .242 during the homestand.
While Kolten Wong continues to flash the leather, he was another Cardinal who endured a rough homestand. He was 0-for-3 last night, and finished the homestand hitting .185 (5 of 27). His hits were 4 singles and 1 double.
For the season, Kolten has played 41 of the 42 home games, receiving 155 plate appearances here. He has hit 1 home run at home, where he has a .199/277/.272 batting line.
On the road, Wong is a .286/.380/.487 hitter with 6 home runs in 138 plate appearances.
St Louis is now 6-5-3 in their 14 series at home.
Marcell Ozuna finished his first season in St Louis with only 16 doubles. He hit his fifteenth of this season last night.
The Cards scored in only 1 of the 18 innings against Oakland. Their 3 runs scored were the fewest they have scored in any series this year.