The number, I admit at the outset, is flawed. Nonetheless, when Dakota Hudson walked off the mound Thursday afternoon after the sixth inning and holding a 1-0 lead, it marked the only time this century, so far, that none of the Cardinal starters in a four-game series allowed a run to score.
The caveat, of course, is the Wednesday game. The starter for that game – Michael Wacha – in fact did not allow a run, but pitched only two innings. All three of the other starters, though, pitched at least 6 dominant innings. For the series, in 23 innings against St Louis starters, the Giants managed 8 hits, 4 walks and a batting line of .104/.148/.117.
There have been three other three-game series this century during which the starters were unscored on. It happened twice in 2013. That 97-win team made it all the way to the World Series. Those Cards sent early notice when they hosted Milwaukee from April 12-14. The birds won the first two, 2-0 and 8-0 behind 7 scoreless from Shelby Miller in the first game, and 9 complete innings from Adam Wainwright in the second. Jaime Garcia gave 7 innings of zeroes in the third game, but the Brewers came back against the Cardinal bullpen to salvage a 4-3 win. The second time the starters were unscored on that year was the final series of the season – 3 mostly meaningless games against a Chicago team on its way to 96 losses.
The best of these series occurred from September 3-5 of 2001. In that three game sweep in San Diego, the Cards got bookend complete game shutouts from Bryn Smith and Woody Williams. Matt Morris threw 7 scoreless in the middle game – a total of 25 scoreless innings.
Even though the usually outstanding bullpen was uncharacteristically batted around, the Giant series and its 1.75 ERA is the most current highlight in a pitching surge that has brought the second-half ERA down to 3.35 – the best in all of baseball. For the season, the team ERA has dropped to 3.85 – fifth best in baseball and second best (to the Dodgers) in the National League.
Of course, it happened at home. The most consistently Jekyll and Hyde aspect of this team is the gap in the rotation’s numbers at home and on the road.
After the San Francisco series, they hold baseball’s best ERA in September at 2.33 (1.64 from the starters) – all of those game have been at home. They, in fact, wrapped up the 6-2 home-stand with a 2.75 ERA (2.27 from the starters).
In the season’s second half they are a remarkable 22-8 at home, where their starters have kicked in with a 2.84 ERA. They are only 13-9 since the break on the road, getting a 4.21 ERA from their starters. For the entire season the spread is even sharper. This team that is now 46-26 at home is getting a 3.08 ERA from their starters. In the 68 road games played, that same rotation has been batted around to the tune of a 5.06 ERA – a primary cause of their 33-35 road record.
They will only have 9 more home games this season. If this team is actually going to earn a playoff berth – not to mention play deep into October – they will have to figure things out away from home. Starting tonight in Pittsburgh.
Waino kicked off the series with seven scoreless, allowing 4 hits. I’m not sure the home/road splits run any deeper than with Adam Wainwright. The Monday game was his fifth start at home since the break. He has also started five time on the road in the second half. He is now 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in those home games, but 2-1 with a 7.13 ERA on the road. For the season, Adam has 8 quality starts in 13 home games, going 7-3 with a 2.43 ERA. His 13 road starts have resulted in 2 quality starts, a 3-6 record, and a 6.54 ERA. For his career, Adam is 90-48 with a 2.80 ERA in the various incarnations of Busch Stadium.
Jack Flaherty – who started Tuesday’s game – is on the kind of roll most pitchers never see in their careers. Over his last 11 starts, Jack has allowed no runs in 6 of them, and allowed just 1 run in 3 others. Over his last 70.1 innings, his numbers read 0.90 ERA and a .141/.209/.224 batting line against. He has 85 strikeouts in those 70.1 innings. This is Bob Gibson-esque.
Wacha’s splits are very similar – especially in the season’s second half where he carries a 2.42 ERA in 22.1 innings at home and a 6.08 ERA in 13.1 innings on the road.
Giving Flaherty a run for his money is the other half of the “Jack and Dak” show – Dakota Hudson. With his six scoreless, Hudson has now not been scored on in 4 of his last 5 starts. Over his last 5, Hudson holds a 5-0 record, a 1.11 ERA, a 60% ground-ball ratio, and a batting line against of .114/.218/.190.
Both Jack and Dak allowed just one hit in their starts.
Hudson is another starter noticeably better at home (8-2, 2.92 ERA) than on the road (7-4, 4.01).
After a decade in the minor leagues, Rangel Ravelo has finally gotten his small chance in the majors. He had two at bats in the Giant series, finishing with a single and his first major league home run. After struggling through his initial call-up, Ravelo has been doing his best to leave an impression. He is hitting .313 (5 for 16) in the season’s second half with 3 extra-base hits and a .625 slugging percentage.
Although very early in his major league career, Rangel is 6 for his first 16 (.375) at home, and 0 for 8 on the road.
It is, perhaps, not the eruption we were looking for, but there is little question Matt Carpenter has been looking better at the plate in recent days. Scrambling a bit for playing time these days, Carp was 3 for 4 against San Fran with 3 walks. Over his last 11 games, Matt is 9 for 27 (.333) with 6 walks (.455 on base percentage).
Paul Goldschmidt hit no home runs against San Francisco in the four games, but had a significant impact at the plate, nonetheless. Paul finished 5 for 12 with 3 extra-base hits and 4 walks –a line of .417/.563/.750. He drove in 6 runs in the 4 games.
Marcell Ozuna singled and homered in the Tuesday game. Those are his only hits over his last 8 contests. Ozuna is just 2 for his last 31 (.065) with 10 strikeouts.
Harrison Bader is finding himself struggling again. He was hitless in 10 at bats against San Fran, and is 0 for his last 12. Harrison is off to a .176 start (3 for 17) for September, and back down to .213 (16 for 75) in the second half.
Harrison is one Cardinal who might welcome the road trip. Especially in the second half, he has hit notably better on the road (.273) than at home (.189).
The only run of the Monday game came courtesy of Ozuna’s home run – his team-leading thirteenth game-winning hit. Goldschmidt, who drove in the game-winner on Thursday, is still second with 12.
Few numbers describe the difference between the 1-0 game on Tuesday and the 9-8 slugfest one night later than the times of the games. At 2:11, Tuesday night’s contest was the shortest of the season, coming in 8 minutes quicker than the 1-0 game that Flaherty lost to the Giants on the last day of the first half. At 4:05, the Wednesday game was not only the longest nine-inning game of the season, but the fifth-longest nine-inning game of the century, and the longest in slightly more than a year. Last September 4, the Cards outslugged Washington 11-8 in a nine-inning game that occupied 4:10.
Randy Arozarena got the start in center on Thursday afternoon. Bader had made six consecutive starts in center, which was the longest streak of consecutive starts at one position on the team.
DeJong, with his twenty-sixth home run on Thursday, is on pace for 30 home runs in his third major league season. After the San Francisco series, Paul is now up to 1508 plate appearances without laying down one sacrifice hit in his career.
The four games against the Giants drew 157,736, pushing home attendance over three-million again (now at 3,074,676 – an average of 42,703.8 per game).
The series win gives St Louis victories in five consecutive series. Over their last eight, they have won 7 and split 1.