Whatever other inconsistencies the Cardinals waded through this year, weekends were always good to them. In September, the Cards were 4-1 on Saturday and 3-1 on Sunday. They were 10-13 during the regular week.
For the season, St Louis finished 8-2 on Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday (13-5 combined). They were 17-23 the rest of the week.
The up-and-down motion of September is visible in the records for the individual games of the series. After going just 2-6 in the first games, they rebounded to 7-2 in second games, then 3-4 in third games, 3-1 in fourth games, and finally 2-2 in the fifth games. They were 5-1 this year in game four of their series.
While they had their moments this year against left-handed starters, at the end of the year, St Louis still finished 4-7 when lefties started. They were 26-21 (.553) when they got a right-handed starter.
In 32 September games, they scored at least 4 runs in just half of them. They were 15-1 in those games. They were 2-14 when they couldn’t manage that fourth run. During September, they were shutout 3 times and held to 1 run 6 other times. That represents 28% of the schedule this month.
The magic number during the season was 5 runs. If they could score at least 5, they went 23-1. Alas, they could manage the 5 run mark only 41.4% of the time. In 58 games, they were shutout 5 times and held to 1 run 8 other times.
During September, the pitchers’ margin for error was very narrow. When they held to opponents to fewer than 3 runs, they were 13-1. But once they allowed that third run, they were only 4-14.
For the season, the St Louis pitching staff held their opponents to fewer than 3 runs 22 times – an impressive 37.9% of the time. They were 19-3 in those games. When they allowed at least 3 runs, the record tumbles to 11-25.
When the season started, neither Daniel Ponce de Leon, Austin Gomber, nor Kwang Hyun Kim were in the rotation. By September, they were the heart of the rotation. The Cards were a combined 10-2 in their September starts (4-0 behind Ponce, and 3-1 when the other two started). In September starts made by Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez, they were a combined 5-9.
Johan Oviedo showed great promise as he was forced into the rotation, but St Louis lost all 5 of his starts.
Showing some September resilience, the Cards fought back to go 7-8 in games where they didn’t score first. Over the whole season, they were just 12-19 (.387) when that happened.
In fact, they trailed at some point in 10 of their 17 September victories. For the season, they trailed at some point in 15 of their 30 victories – a number a little surprising considering the constant offensive struggles.
On the other hand, they only lost 11 games in which they led at some point.
Like the players, the umpires all stayed in a localized area, with the result that the teams saw the same umpires more often in the 60 game schedule than they would see them over the regular 162.
For the Cardinals, that familiarity was welcomed when it brought Ed Hickox behind the plate. St Louis was 4-0 when Ed called the games. With others the familiarity was less profitable. They saw Jerry Meals 5 times in 58 games – still going 3-2 in those games. They were 1-3 when Jeremie Rehal called balls and strikes, and 0-3 when Paul Clemons as back there.
Scoring Changes – for those scoring at home.
In the 18-3 blowout loss against Milwaukee on September 15, Jace Peterson drove in Daniel Vogelbach with a sacrifice fly. That run – for some bizarre reason – was originally counted as earned, although, due to Lane Thomas’ error on the play before, the inning should have ended when Thomas caught Peterson’s fly. Originally charged with 2 earned runs, Rob Kaminsky’s line has been corrected to just 1 earned run allowed.
I don’t believe, however, that that is why you will see the Cardinal team ERA variously reported as 3.92 and 3.90. The correct ERA is 3.90. I believe that those reporting 3.92 aren’t accounting for the unearned run credited to the team on August 21.
Cincinnati scored all four of their runs in the sixth inning of that game. Genesis Cabrera started the inning, and retired the first two batters, before a third reached on an error. Under normal circumstances, all subsequent runs that score should be counted as unearned, as the inning should be over. Cabrera followed the error by walking the next batter and hitting the one after to load the bases. When the Cards brought in Tyler Webb to face Josh Van Meter, Cincinnati countered with Matt Davidson, who promptly delivered the grand slam home run.
The runs charged to Cabrera, of course, were unearned. But the scoring rules don’t allow Webb to profit from an error committed before he entered the inning, so even though the inning should have been over, the run charged to Tyler was still earned.
For him. For the team ERA, that run is still unearned. Thus the correct Cardinal ERA is 3.90. Those who report 3.92 are simply adding up all the earned runs of the individual pitchers.
My Designated Hitter Rant
As the DH seems to be a real threat in the near future – and many expect it to be universal and permanent by 2022 if not sooner – I am going to include the link to my DH rant at the bottom of all my baseball posts this year (and next, probably). If you have already read it, you should know that I added a section on July 30 after the Cards first five games with the DH. Here is the link. If this idiocy is to become law, I want to do everything I can to make sure as many people as possible understand why this is wrong.