Rare Pitching Duels in the Rarefied Air

Losing a 2-1 game in Colorado is difficult.  Losing consecutive 2-1 games in Colorado is – I understand – unprecedented (I read somewhere that the Rockies had never won consecutive games at home scoring less than 3 runs).  This century, previous to this series, the Cardinals have played 65 games in the pitcher terror chamber that is Colorado.  They have averaged 5.49 runs per game in those contests.  In those 65 games, they have been shut out just 3 times (once in a game started by last night’s starter Antonio Senzatela on May 26, 2017), and they have been held to one run (prior to this week) on just 6 other occasions.

Meanwhile, Cardinal pitching in Colorado has come up with 3 shutouts of their own, held them to 1 run just once (on July 26 of 2006), and to two runs just 4 times.  Of these 8 best pitching efforts in Colorado, only one has occurred since 2015 – a 3-0 Cardinal win started by Adam Wainwright on May 27 of 2017 (and yes that was the game after Senzatela’s shutout).  Colorado has averaged 5.98 runs against the Cardinals in their home ballpark this century.

So the likelihood of the back-to-back pitching duels that we’ve just seen is more than just a little unlikely.  The Cards have scored in double figures 9 times in Colorado, and have given up double figures 11 times.

In all 65 previous games, only once have both teams scored in double figures, a 15-12 Cardinal win on April 8, 2003.  There have been 5 of the 65 games in which both teams have scored more than the 6 combined runs that these two teams have managed through the first two games.  In the entire century to this point the Cardinals have lost a total of two, 2-1 games in Colorado.

So, with St Louis somewhat desperate to put some distance between themselves and their pursuers in the division, the surprising lack of offense has been disappointing.  The story of the second half, though, continues to be the pitching.

Even though the losses drop the Cards to just 6-5 for the month, they have done so with a 2.63 team ERA and a staggering .208 batting average against.  Over their last 19 games, St Louis is 13-6, featuring a 2.64 team ERA and a .200 batting average against.

Once the Colorado series is over, the season’s last 16 games will all be against teams scrambling to make the playoffs (7 of the games on the road).  How much contribution they will get from their offense against these teams is anyone’s guess.  St Louis’ playoff hopes will rise and fall on the continued excellence of their pitching.

Dakota Hudson

Even though his five-game winning streak came to a halt, Dakota Hudson added another quality start and threw another very good game in a difficult ballpark.  Dak has quality starts in 5 of his last 6 outings.  He holds a 1.41 ERA over his last 38.1 innings with a .126 batting average against.  He is 8-3 with a 3.21 ERA in the second half.

NoteBook

Losing well pitched games was a kind of early season specialty for this team, but they have done better of late.  St Louis had actually won 7 consecutive quality starts until last night.  The Cards are now 46-20 this year when they get a quality start from their starter.  That is still losing 30.3%, which would be the highest percent since the 2014 team lost 31.9% of the time that they got a quality start (62-29).

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