The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Can Wellemeyer keep the streak going?


Likely there aren’t many St. Louis Cardinals fans anywhere that are not aware of the satisfying, slump-breaking three-game sweep the club applied to the visiting Chicago Cubs this Tuesday through Thursday.

The wins were secured by superb pitching, as the Cardinals’ staff, led by starters Joel Pineiro, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright and fortified by the bullpen, allowed the Cubbies just two runs in total over the 27 innings of baseball.

With the help of statman Tom Orf, we can put that team pitching feat into its proper perspective. During the last 30 years, only once prior to this week had the Cardinals stopped the Cubs offense so consistently over at least three games.

From April 20 through 22, 1981, Bob Forsch, Andy Rincon and the late Lary Sorensen and their pen mates held the Chicagoans to a single run in the three home games. The latter two spun complete-game shutouts while Forsch, like Carpenter this week, went five innings.

Overall, such a three-game period of Cardinals dominance (opponents scoring two total runs or fewer) has now occurred 17 times in the three decades since 1979. In addition to the 1981 Chicago set, the Cards have allowed just one run three other times, but have not strung together three consecutive scoreless games.

Only five times during such a streak did the Cardinals hold their opponent to two runs or fewer only to lose the game. They were shut out each time. Ten of the 17 were against the same club during the same series, while the others included two different opponents.

Here are the 13 three-game streaks since 1979, listed from most recent to oldest.

Game Date Home/away Opponent StL runs Opp runs StL W/L Pitcher
39 5/19/2009 vs Chicago Cubs 3 0 W Piniero
40 5/20/2009 vs Chicago Cubs 2 1 W Carpenter
41 5/21/2009 vs Chicago Cubs 3 1 W Wainwright
95 7/21/2006 at Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 W Suppan
96 7/22/2006 at Los Angeles Dodgers 6 1 W Weaver
97 7/23/2006 at Los Angeles Dodgers 6 1 W Marquis
142 9/9/2001 vs Los Angeles Dodgers 8 1 W Mathews, T.J.
143 9/10/2001 at Milwaukee Brewers 8 0 W Kile
144 9/17/2001 vs Milwaukee Brewers 2 1 W Smith, Bud
137 9/3/2001 at San Diego Padres 4 0 W Smith, Bud
138 9/4/2001 at San Diego Padres 6 1 W Morris
139 9/5/2001 at San Diego Padres 2 0 W Williams
80 6/30/1997 vs Minnesota Twins 2 1 W Morris
81 7/1/1997 vs Minnesota Twins 2 0 W Stottlemyre
82 7/2/1997 vs Minnesota Twins 2 1 W Petkovsek
16 4/24/1991 vs Chicago Cubs 0 1 L DeLeon
17 4/26/1991 vs Montreal Expos 4 0 W Smith, Bryn
18 4/27/1991 vs Montreal Expos 2 1 W Hill
98 7/26/1989 vs Chicago Cubs 2 0 W DeLeon
99 7/28/1989 at Montreal Expos 2 0 W Power
100 7/29/1989 at Montreal Expos 0 2 L Hill
56 6/8/1989 at Montreal Expos 7 2 W DiPino
57 6/9/1989 at Chicago Cubs 1 0 W DeLeon
58 6/10/1989 at Chicago Cubs 6 0 W Magrane
118 8/16/1988 vs Houston Astros 3 0 W Terry
119 8/17/1988 vs Houston Astros 0 1 L Magrane
120 8/18/1988 vs Houston Astros 2 1 W Forsch
113 8/10/1988 at Philadelphia Phillies 1 0 W Tudor
114 8/11/1988 at Philadelphia Phillies 0 1 L Costello
115 8/12/1988 at Chicago Cubs 4 0 W Magrane
76 7/3/1987 at Atlanta Braves 9 1 W Forsch
77 7/4/1987 at Atlanta Braves 3 0 W Cox
78 7/5/1987 at Atlanta Braves 4 1 W Mathews, Greg
120 8/24/1985 at Atlanta Braves 7 0 W Forsch
121 8/25/1985 at Atlanta Braves 5 2 W Kepshire
122 8/26/1985 at Cincinnati Reds 3 0 W Cox
151 9/19/1984 vs Montreal Expos 1 0 W Cox
152 9/20/1984 vs Montreal Expos 3 2 W LaPoint
153 9/21/1984 vs Chicago Cubs 8 0 W Kepshire

Now, the pressure is really on Friday starter Todd Wellemeyer (pictured) as he faces his former Kansas City Royals teammates. Only twice during the last 30 years have the Cardinals gone four games in a row yielding a total of two runs or fewer. If Wellemeyer and his mates can blank the Royals at Busch Stadium Friday night, they would join this list.

The two four-game streaks follow, along with an overlapping pair of three-game streaks of two runs or fewer allowed which occurred in 1982.

Game Date Home/away Opponent StL runs Opp runs StL W/L Pitcher
119 8/19/1983 vs Houston Astros 2 0 W LaPoint
120 8/20/1983 vs Houston Astros 3 0 W Stuper
121 8/21/1983 vs Houston Astros 5 2 W Cox
122 8/23/1983 vs Atlanta Braves 7 0 W Andujar
142 9/13/1982 at Philadelphia Phillies 0 2 L Forsch
143 9/14/1982 at Philadelphia Phillies 2 0 W Stuper
144 9/15/1982 at Philadelphia Phillies 8 0 W Andujar
146 9/17/1982 at New York Mets 7 1 W Sutter
7 4/20/1981 vs Chicago Cubs 6 1 W Forsch
8 4/21/1981 vs Chicago Cubs 8 0 W Rincon
9 4/22/1981 vs Chicago Cubs 3 0 W Sorensen
10 4/25/1981 at Pittsburgh Pirates 5 1 W Shirley

In a final oddity, just once over the last 30 years did the Cardinals put together a five-game stretch during which two three-game sets of two runs or fewer overlapped by just one game. No matter how you count it, three shutouts in five days, separated by a pair of two-run games is very, very impressive!

Game Date Home/away Opponent StL runs Opp runs StL W/L Pitcher
126 8/28/1992 vs Los Angeles Dodgers 1 0 W Clark
127 8/29/1992 vs Los Angeles Dodgers 3 2 W Olivares
128 8/30/1992 vs Los Angeles Dodgers 3 0 W Cormier
129 8/31/1992 vs San Diego Padres 6 2 W Tewksbury
130 9/1/1992 vs San Diego Padres 2 0 W Osborne

In terms of individual pitchers, Bob Forsch is the champion of this subset of stats with five wins gained during such a streak. They occurred in 1981, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. Danny Cox had four victories, also during the 1980’s.

Of the 17 streaks, four have occurred in this decade, with only three during the 1990’s. The other ten were during the glory years of the 1980’s.

During the last 30 years, the Cards have yet to hold their opponent to two runs or fewer in total over five games. Is that too much to ask? It is up to Wellemeyer, Saturday’s starter Kyle Lohse and perhaps the bullpen.

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