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

Cardinals starters exiting games early

St. Louis Cardinals starters have gone five innings or less in four consecutive games.

Adam Wainwright being removed (AP/Jeff Roberson)The St. Louis Cardinals’ last two series-ending games have been major disappointments. Co-ace Adam Wainwright’s uncharacteristically poor and brief four-inning start on Thursday to close the Toronto set began an unenviable streak of short starts. It is one that Chris Carpenter will be trying to end when he faces Arizona at Busch Stadium on Monday night.

Jaime Garcia also had his worst outing of the season on Sunday, going just two innings in Kansas City while yielding five earned runs.

In between the two unexpected bookends, Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth went just five innings each on Friday and Saturday, respectively. That was more expected.

As such, the starting staff returns home hoping to end their unenviable run of going five innings or less in four consecutive games.

It is a stretch of rough pitching the likes of which has been seen by Cardinals fans just three times in the last three seasons – none last season, once in 2008 and twice in 2007. The worst streak was six such games, accrued in September 2007.

St. Louis Cardinals, consecutive starts of five or fewer innings, summary, 2007-current

5 IP or less # 6 starts # 5 starts # 4 starts
2010 0 0 1+
2009 0 0 0
2008 0 1 0
2007 1 0 1

Braden Looper was the constant in all three prior stretches.

St. Louis Cardinals, consecutive starts of five or fewer innings, detail, 2007-current

Starting Pitcher Date Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR
Jaime Garcia 6/27/2010 KCR L 3-10 GS-2 ,L 2.0 4 5 5 2 0 1
Blake Hawksworth 6/26/2010 KCR W 5-3 GS-6 ,W 5.0 2 2 1 1 1 0
Jeff Suppan 6/25/2010 KCR L 2-4 GS-5 ,L 5.0 7 3 3 2 3 0
Adam Wainwright 6/24/2010 TOR L 0-5 GS-4 ,L 4.0 6 5 4 0 6 3
Kyle Lohse 7/27/2008 NYM L 1-9 GS-6 ,L 5.0 11 7 7 1 2 3
Joel Pineiro 7/26/2008 NYM W 10-8 GS-4 4.0 10 5 5 1 2 2
Mitchell Boggs 7/25/2008 NYM L 2-7 GS-5 ,L 4.1 8 6 6 4 1 1
Todd Wellemeyer 7/24/2008 MIL L 3-4 GS-5 5.0 5 2 2 5 2 0
Braden Looper 7/23/2008 MIL L 0-3 GS-5 ,L 5.0 7 1 1 2 4 1
Kip Wells 9/13/2007 CIN L 4-5 GS-5 ,L 4.2 10 5 5 6 2 1
Anthony Reyes 9/12/2007 CIN L 1-5 GS-4 ,L 3.1 4 3 3 2 1 2
Mark Mulder 9/11/2007 CIN L 2-7 GS-4 ,L 4.0 7 7 5 3 2 2
Joel Pineiro 9/10/2007 CHC L 3-12 GS-4 ,L 3.1 8 6 6 0 3 2
Brad Thompson 9/9/2007 ARI L 5-6 GS-2 2.0 4 2 2 0 1 1
Braden Looper 9/8/2007 ARI L 8-9 GS-4 3.1 8 7 6 1 2 2
Anthony Reyes 6/17/2007 OAK W 10-6 GS-5 5.0 7 5 5 3 3 1
Todd Wellemeyer 6/16/2007 OAK W 15-6 GS-4 3.1 6 3 2 2 2 1
Braden Looper 6/15/2007 OAK L 3-14 GS-5 ,L 4.1 8 8 7 2 1 1
Kip Wells 6/14/2007 KCR L 8-17 GS-2 ,L 1.1 3 6 6 4 1 0

If one expands the aperture to streaks of six innings or less, one more bad run in 2008 is added and two more in 2007, a very rough season for the defending World Champions.

St. Louis Cardinals, consecutive starts of six or fewer innings, summary, 2007-current

6 IP or less # 6 starts # 5 starts # 4 starts
2010 0 0 1+
2009 0 0 0
2008 0 2 0
2007 2 0 2

Likely one of the reasons that the youthful Cardinals relief corps came into Sunday with the second lowest ERA in the National League at 3.09 was that they haven’t been overused. In fact, almost ¾ of NL bullpens, 11 of 16, have pitched more innings than St. Louis’ 210 this season.

Obviously, if the starters will continue to exit as early as they have over the most recent four games, the bullpen will surely suffer as well.

Then, there is the Cardnials’ inconsistent offense…

(Thanks to Tom Orf for providing the game detail.)

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