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

Holliday, Lugo fast starters for Cardinals

On Friday night in Philadelphia, the newest St. Louis Cardinal, outfielder Matt Holliday, celebrated his trade from Oakland with a four-hit game. That tied his career high. It was Holliday’s 15th career four-hit game and third of this season. The first two were on May 19 at Detroit and this Monday, July 20 at Minnesota.

Holliday was just the third Cardinal in at least the last 55 years to have as many as four hits in his first game wearing the uniform.

Cardinals most hits, first game (1954-2009)

Player Date Hits
Matt Holliday 7/24/2009 4
Aaron Miles 4/3/2006 4
George Altman 4/9/1963 4

New infielder Julio Lugo, who joined the club the day before from Boston, also got into his first game action as a Cardinal on Friday night and ultimately had an even better first weekend than Holliday. Lugo collected eight hits and Holliday seven over the three games at Philadelphia.

Lugo hit for the weekend cycle, including two triples, two doubles and a home run while Holliday had four doubles among his seven safeties. The two are currently tied for third for the most extra-base-hit games to start a Cardinals career since at least 1954 and have a chance to move up the list this week as the Cards entertain the Dodgers at Busch Stadium starting on Monday night.

Extra-base-hit games to start Cardinals career (1954-2009)

Start End G
Will Clark 8/1/2000 8/6/2000 5
Charley Smith 4/13/1966 4/16/1966 4
Matt Holliday 7/24/2009 7/26/2009 * 3
Julio Lugo 7/24/2009 7/26/2009 * 3
Bo Hart 6/19/2003 6/21/2003 3
Ray Burris 5/10/1986 5/30/1986 3
Cesar Cedeno 8/30/1985 9/2/1985 3
Reggie Smith 4/5/1974 4/10/1974 3
Ted Kubiak 7/31/1971 8/4/1971 3
Wally Moon 4/13/1954 4/17/1954 3
* still active

Lugo is the fourth player in at least the last 55 years to start his Cardinals career with three two-or-more-hit games and is the first during that period to have eight hits in his first three games with a hit in each game.

I find several of the names on the lists surprising, including an especially large concentration of catchers.

Most multi-hit games to start Cardinals career (1954-2009)

Year Games
Julio Lugo 2009 3 *
Bo Hart 2003 3
Pat Borders 1996 3
Roger Maris 1967 3
* current streak

Most hits over first three Cardinals games, hitting in each game (1954-2009)

Year Hits
Julio Lugo 2009 8
Matt Holliday 2009 7
Aaron Miles 2006 7
George Altman 1963 7
Mike Matheny 2000 6
Pat Borders 1996 6
Danny Sheaffer 1995 6
Bill Virdon 1955 6

In the oddest of these odd stats, only two Cardinals have doubled in each of first three games since 1954. Prior to Holliday, pitcher Ray Burris did it in 1986, but it took him 21 days of elapsed time to accomplish the feat.

Doubles in first three Cardinals games (1954-2009)

Matt Holliday 2009
Ray Burris 1986 *
* over 21 days

Watching the two new Cardinals in person in all three games this past weekend, I was actually more impressed with Lugo’s hitting. He seemed to put the bat squarely on the ball each time, hitting the ball hard, even into outs. Over his career in Citizens Bank Park, Lugo is now batting over .500 (21-for-41).

Thanks to Tom Orf for the data pulls and in indulging my questions.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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