St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia tossed a three-hit shutout on Sunday. How often has it happened in the last 90 years?
By all accounts, Sunday was a big day for St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia. The rookie tossed his first complete-game shutout as a major leaguer while giving his slumping teammates a much-needed lift.
Prior to Sunday, Garcia had never pitched more than seven innings in the majors, but held the playoff-contending visitors from San Francisco to just three hits and no walks over a full nine innings.
Due to a pair of double plays, Garcia faced just 28 batters, one over the minimum and did it on an economical 89 pitches, of which 65 were strikes. His pitch count was the lowest in a complete game by a Cardinals pitcher since Bob Tewksbury’s 86-pitch outing on May 30, 1992.
Garcia became the first left-handed rookie to pitch a shutout for the Cardinals since Bud Smith’s no-hitter in 2001. Smith’s game is also the most recent no-hitter thrown by any Cardinal. With his 12th career win on Sunday, Garcia has already surpassed Smith’s total of just seven big-league victories.
Researcher Tom Orf determined that Garcia’s Sunday gem is the 240th Cardinals complete-game shutout of three hits or less since 1920. It is the club’s third this season, as Adam Wainwright owns the other two. Interestingly, despite all his past success, Chris Carpenter has logged only four such games in his distinguished Cardinals career.
From a historical perspective, not surprisingly Bob Gibson leads the way with 18 of these games. I was a bit surprised though that he logged just two of them in his 1968 signature season. Gibson’s best season in this category was four games in 1965.
Tied for third with Bob Forsch at ten career shutouts with three or fewer hits is another familiar name, Ernie Broglio. When people cite the Lou Brock trade as having been incredibly one-sided, they often overlook the fact that Broglio had been a very good pitcher up to that point. As such, the deal was unpopular when announced. Historians continue to wonder if Ernie was damaged goods by the time of the trade, however, as he was unable to continue his past success after joining the Cubs.
Cardinals complete game shutouts, three or fewer hits, 1920-current, career totals
Perhaps in an indication of the increased focus on pitch counts and relief specialization, only 21 of these games have been logged in the almost 15 seasons since Tony La Russa took over as manager prior to the 1996 season.
In all fairness, even before La Russa arrived, it had been a long dry spell for the team and their starting pitchers specifically. The team had just one shutout of three of fewer hits during the entire seven-year span of 1991-1997. Here is the full list for the last two decades.
Cardinals complete game shutouts, three or fewer hits, 1991-current