Looking At The Cardinals Losses

We know the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals are good — they have the best record in the National League this morning and lately have jockeyed back and forth with the Texas Rangers for the best record in the majors. So when they do lose, which has only happened 14 times in 40 games, it’s interesting.

Latest GameThey’ve only had losing “streaks” twice this season — back-to-back defeats on April 3 and 5 to the Diamondbacks and Giants, then three in a row April 27-29 to the Pirates and Reds. (I was there for the two Pirates losses. Sorry, my fault.)

And, as Jenifer Langosch reported in recapping yesterday’s Cardinals 5-2 loss to the New York Mets,

The Cardinals have lost the past four games in which a left-hander has started against them. Those four starters combined to allow three earned runs in 28 innings. In the same span, St. Louis has gone 12-1 and scored 46 runs against right-handed starters.

The discrepancy is evident in the team batting average, as well. Through a quarter of the season, the Cardinals are batting 50 points higher against right-handers (.275) than they are against lefties (.225).

Those four games against lefties have included the three most recent losses — yesterday to Jon Niese, on Mother’s Day to Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies, May 8 to the Cubs and Travis Wood and April 28 to Jeff Locke and the Pirates.

But what about the other Cardinals losses — do they hit better but still lose against righties?

Not really. The Cardinals are hitting .191/.257/.283 in games lost by the team, which is 13th out of the 15 teams in the National League. (Behind them: the Nationals, with the Braves last.) By contrast, when they win, they hit extremely well — .302/.365/.445, which is second-best in the NL behind the Rockies. So while the Cards starting pitching has obviously been tremendous, the hitting has been pretty good in those victories as well.

Now, granted, those stats in the Cardinals losses are only based on 14 games compared to 26 games for the wins. Of the 14 losses, three have been shutouts. The most they’ve scored in a loss is nine runs, in that insane 16-inning 10-9 loss to the Diamondbacks back on April 3 (which you can relive via haiku if you so choose).

What about the other side — how is the Cardinals pitching in the games that they lose? Well, duh, of course it’s going to be worse than when they win. But their ERA in losses is 5.46 and opponents are hitting .307 against them, compared to an ERA of 1.81 and an opponents’ batting average of .205 in victories.

Granted, those stats take into account games we don’t want to remember with the bullpen issues — Mitchell Boggs has two losses this season, as does Fernando Salas, and Joe Kelly has one. The rest of the losses are from the starters: Adam Wainwright now has three after yesterday, Jaime Garcia and Shelby Miller each have two, and Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook one each.

But, all in all, still impressive when you look at the number of losses other team’s starters have — Cole Hamels has six, Edwin Jackson and Jeff Samardzija have five each as do Stephen Strasburg and Kris Medlen.

If you’re wondering how the Cardinals do in games following one of their losses this season, we should feel fairly optimistic about today. Their record is 10-3, the team ERA is an NL-best 2.48 and they’re hitting .252/.326/.358.

Plus, even more encouragingly, today is Friday. The Cards are 4-2 on this day, have a team ERA of 1.08 and are hitting .266/.327/.451. Matt Holliday especially likes Fridays, as he’s hitting .421/.542./737 with two homers. Carlos Beltran has five Friday homers. And we’ll just overlook the Friday pitching stats … other than to say it’s obviously an extremely small sample size when it comes tonight’s starter.

Who, of course, is Jaime Garcia and he will be facing the last-place Milwaukee Brewers and Wily Peralta. The Brewers just lost three straight to the Pirates and have only won two of their last 10. Game time is 7:15 p.m. Central at Busch Stadium.

Christine Coleman is the lead St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

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