As yesterday’s game went into extra innings (and perhaps the less said about the game, the better — another frustrating loss in a season filled with them), the thoughts of Cardinals fans turned to walk-off wins. The 2014 Cardinals have had two so far, both within the past two weeks and both decided in odd ways: the walk-off hit-by-pitch against the Cubs on May 13 and last week’s walk-off throwing error by the Diamondbacks in extra innings.
In the end, wins are wins and however they are achieved works. But when was the last time we experienced the joy and thrill of a walk-off home run, that unbelievable feeling like in Game Six of the 2011 World Series?
Uh … then.
Wow. And nearly three years now since the last regular season walk-off homer.
Of course, hitting a walk-off homer requires actually hitting a homer — something the 2014 Cardinals are definitely not doing very often. They have 26 home runs as a team this season, which is last in the National League. It will take a bit to catch up with the 14th place team too, as the Mets have 34. Overall in MLB, the Cards rank 29th — the Royals trail then with only 20 homers. (Fun fact: the major’s current home run leader, Nelson Cruz, has 16.)
The Cards team leader in homers remains Jhonny Peralta with nine, who hit his last one a week ago today. Yadier Molina is second with five, Allen Craig has four, Matt Adams three, Matt Holliday two, and Peter Bourjos, Matt Carpenter and Jon Jay each have one.
Lack of power was the case for the Cardinals last year as well — though obviously it didn’t keep them from winning — as they finished 13th in the NL with 125 home runs. Carlos Beltran led the team with 24, while Holliday had 22 and Craig 13.
The 2012 team was definitely a slugging one — the team had five players with 20 or more homers — and they finished seventh in the NL with 159 homers. (The Brewers were first with 209.) Beltran led the team that season too, with 32, while Holliday had 27, Craig and Yadi each had 22 and David Freese had 20. Yet even with all those homers, none was a walk-off winner.
Looking back to 2011, the team was sixth in the NL with 162 home runs. That Guy Who Used to Play First Base led the team with 37, while Lance Berkman had 31 and Holliday had 22. Also in double-digits: Yadi with 14, Craig and Colby Rasmus with 11 each, and Freese and Jay with 10 each. In addition to the most recent regular season walk-off homer, Skip had one other homer. Oh, Ryan Theriot — I mean, Two-Time World Series Champion Ryan Theriot — had one also. As did Tyler Greene. (Guess he would be World Series Champion Tyler Greene, wouldn’t he?)
So how much longer will the Cards walk-off homer drought continue? Hard to know, obviously, and it would be interesting to know just how many walk-off homers other teams hit and how often. A quick search on Google did turn up this list ranking the 10 biggest homers of 2014, which actually includes more than 10 because of honorable mentions as well, and quite a few were walk-offs.
Until the Cards can celebrate again, though, we can at least take comfort in watching the last time it happened — because that will never get old. Nor will pictures from that night …
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don’t already.