News item: St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter fanned ten Milwaukee batters over eight innings of work on Monday. Teammate Adam Wainwright fell just short the next night, as he retired a personal MLB-best nine Brewers hitters via strikeouts.
Carpenter’s Monday performance was only the second time a St. Louis pitcher has struck out as many opposing hitters in one contest since the start of the 2006 season. Not surprisingly, Carp delivered the previous 10+K outing, too. Back on June 13, 2006, he set his personal single-game high with 13 punchouts at Pittsburgh.
The rarity of such a feat causes the uninformed to nod their heads, noting the oft-discussed pitch-to-contact, groundball philosophy supposedly pushed by the Cardinals organization.
In discussing his long-time pitching coach Dave Duncan, Tony La Russa recently told me this:
“We always laugh when we talk about “The Dave Duncan Style”. It gets talked about a lot here in St. Louis – pitch to ground ball. Dave focuses on the abilities of the pitchers.”
In other words, when Duncan and La Russa are given strikeout pitchers, they are more than happy to take the Ks. In fact, over the first six seasons of this decade, the Cardinals amassed 34 occurrences in which the starter fanned ten or more.
The team’s average from 2000 through 2005 was almost six such games per season but as already noted, there have been just two in the 3 ¼ seasons since.
Not only were each of the Cardinals’ most recent 10K performances registered by Carpenter, but he also owns seven of the team’s last nine such games, going back to his St. Louis debut in the 2004 season. He authored four more during his Cy Young Award campaign in 2005.
Ten or more strikeout games by a Cardinals pitcher by season (2000-2009)
|2005||5||Chris Carpenter||4||Mark Mulder||1|
|2004||3||Chris Carpenter||1||Woody Williams||1||Matt Morris||1|
|2002||4||Matt Morris||2||Chuck Finley||2|
|2001||7||Matt Morris||4||Darryl Kile||3|
|2000||14||Rick Ankiel||6||Darryl Kile||5||Andy Benes||3|
With his current total of seven 10K games this decade, Carpenter is just one behind the leaders, Matt Morris and the late Darryl Kile. Eight pitchers in total made the list.
Carpenter and Morris have the best single-game performances during the 2000s with 13 strikeouts. Chuck Finley and Mark Mulder each had a 12K outing.
Ten or more strikeout games (2000-2009) with bests by each pitcher
|Pitcher||# 10K||Best game|
You may have noticed the fourth-place leader in the total number of 10K games, the only other one of the eight that is an active major leaguer today. In fact, he remains in the uniform as a current teammate of Carp, retired hurler Rick Ankiel. At the age of 20 and 21, the lefty had the best single-season for such feats during this time when he collected six in 2000 – a reminder of what could have been.
Striking out ten or more does not necessarily guarantee a win for the pitcher or his club. Carpenter has one of the seven losses taken, back in 2004, and two of the six no-decisions in these contests. Overall, the starters are 23-7-6 (.767) in the 10K games.
|Pitcher||Win||Loss||No dec||Win pct.|
If he continues at his 2009 pace of one such game each fourth start, Carpenter will soon tie and then pass the Cardinals leaders in number of ten strikeout games this decade.
In closing, the individual summaries of the 36 performances follow. Andy Benes’ three 10K outings are especially notable in that they occurred in consecutive starts in June, 2000. The team had five that month as Ankiel and Kile each had one prior to Benes’ run.
|Chris Carpenter||8/26/2004||@CIN||L||0||1||CG 8||L||8||3||1||1||1||11|
|Darryl Kile||6/7/2000||KCR||W||4||2||CG 9||W||9||7||2||2||1||10|
Special thanks to statman Tom Orf for collecting this historical data.