Most serious baseball fans with an eye toward the rich history of the game are well aware of the impact on starting pitchers of the increased specialization and deployment of the bullpen in recent decades. Another factor in the resultant reduction in workload for starters is the relatively-new focus on pitch counts.
Put that together and what results is the increasing rarity of long outings or in its most extreme form, complete games. Going one step further, getting a three-game series of such performances with impressive results is almost unheard-of these days.
Yet that is what happened at Busch Stadium this past weekend.
When St. Louis Cardinals right-handed starting pitcher Kyle McClellan pitched one batter into the ninth inning during Sunday afternoon’s series finale versus Milwaukee, it concluded a weekend trifecta of Cardinals starters having gone at least eight innings each while allowing no more than one run.
Prior to the season, it would have seemed unimaginable for the 2011 Cardinals to accomplish this without either Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter contributing. Yet that is exactly what fans witnessed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in St. Louis.
Lohse was a hard-luck loser on Saturday despite yielding just one run over eight innings. He had the misfortune to be matched up against Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo’s no-hit bid. The lefty Garcia was arguably the most impressive of all, spinning a two-hit complete game on Friday during which he carried a perfect game one out into the eighth inning.
Fortunately, to help put this into a historical perspective, we have researcher Tom Orf, who painstakingly combed the records for similar series since 1920.
The last time three such games were thrown by Cardinals pitchers was 39 years ago, in 1972. Further, this is just the fifth occurrence in the last 60 years.
Other than a bulge in the 1940’s, a series of three games pitched this well was only a once-or-twice in a decade occurrence – even in the pre-pitch count and pre-closer days.
Three consecutive starts of 8+ IP and 0 or 1 run allowed vs. same team (in series), St. Louis Cardinals, by decade since 1920
In fact, Bob Gibson participated in just two of these series during his long Hall of Fame career. That is the same number in which Dizzy and Paul Dean contributed. Mort Cooper was a part of five of the eight three-start performances during the wartime 1940’s.
Lohse’s Saturday gem was only the second of the 54 individual contests in which the Cardinals lost. The other was a Nelson Briles start in July 1968.
The complete list of 17 prior three-game occurrences follows.
Three consecutive starts of 8+ IP and 0 or 1 run allowed vs. same team (in series), St. Louis Cardinals, since 1920
|Scipio Spinks||1972-06-25 (1)||NYM||W 7-1||9||6||1||1||6||13||0|
|Rick Wise||1972-06-25 (2)||NYM||W 2-1||9||4||1||1||3||4||0|
|Reggie Cleveland||6/24/1972||NYM||W 11-0||9||6||0||0||3||8||0|
|Bob Gibson||1968-07-21 (1)||NYM||W 2-0||9||7||0||0||0||13||0|
|Nelson Briles||1968-07-21 (2)||NYM||L 0-1||8||7||1||1||5||5||0|
|Ray Washburn||7/20/1968||NYM||W 2-0||9||8||0||0||0||6||0|
|Bob Gibson||6/20/1968||CHC||W 1-0||9||5||0||0||1||6||0|
|Steve Carlton||6/19/1968||CHC||W 4-0||9||1||0||0||0||9||0|
|Nelson Briles||6/18/1968||CHC||W 1-0||9||8||0||0||0||3||0|
|Luis Arroyo||5/16/1955||PIT||W 6-0||9||6||0||0||0||3||0|
|Gordon Jones||5/15/1955||PIT||W 5-1||8||3||1||1||4||9||1|
|Brooks Lawrence||5/14/1955||PIT||W 6-0||9||4||0||0||1||5||0|
|Howie Pollet||6/9/1949||NYG||W 4-1||9||6||1||1||1||3||0|
|Gerry Staley||6/8/1949||NYG||W 2-0||9||3||0||0||3||1||0|
|Harry Brecheen||6/7/1949||NYG||W 3-0||9||5||0||0||3||2||0|
|Red Barrett||8/26/1945||CHC||W 5-1||9||5||1||1||1||1||1|
|Ken Burkhart||8/25/1945||CHC||W 3-1||9||10||1||1||2||3||0|
|Harry Brecheen||8/24/1945||CHC||W 1-0||9||4||0||0||5||4||0|
|Red Barrett||6/29/1945||PHI||W 9-1||9||7||1||1||2||0||0|
|Ken Burkhart||6/28/1945||PHI||W 6-1||9||6||1||1||3||2||0|
|Blix Donnelly||1945-06-27 (2)||PHI||W 6-0||9||1||0||0||1||3||0|
|Mort Cooper||1944-07-09 (1)||BSN||W 1-0||9||5||0||0||3||6||0|
|Harry Brecheen||1944-07-09 (2)||BSN||W 9-0||9||5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ted Wilks||7/8/1944||BSN||W 4-0||9||6||0||0||3||5||0|
|Red Munger||1944-06-11 (1)||CIN||W 3-1||9||6||1||1||1||1||0|
|Harry Gumbert||1944-06-11 (2)||CIN||W 4-1||9||6||1||1||2||0||0|
|Mort Cooper||6/10/1944||CIN||W 18-0||9||5||0||0||2||2||0|
|Max Lanier||1943-09-18 (1)||CHC||W 2-1||9||7||1||1||3||5||0|
|Al Brazle||1943-09-18 (2)||CHC||W 5-0||9||4||0||0||1||5||0|
|Mort Cooper||9/17/1943||CHC||W 2-1||10||5||1||1||1||4||0|
|Harry Gumbert||1943-07-11 (1)||BSN||W 3-0||9||6||0||0||0||2||0|
|Howie Pollet||7/10/1943||BSN||W 6-0||9||4||0||0||2||7||0|
|Mort Cooper||7/9/1943||BSN||W 7-0||9||3||0||0||0||4||0|
|Johnny Beazley||8/26/1942||BRO||W 2-1||10||9||1||1||2||1||0|
|Mort Cooper||8/25/1942||BRO||W 2-1||14||10||1||1||1||4||0|
|Max Lanier||8/24/1942||BRO||W 7-1||9||4||1||1||0||4||0|
|Paul Dean||1935-07-14 (1)||PHI||W 5-1||9||7||1||1||0||6||0|
|Bill Walker||1935-07-14 (2)||PHI||W 10-1||9||10||1||1||3||9||0|
|Bill Hallahan||7/13/1935||PHI||W 4-0||9||2||0||0||2||6||0|
|Dizzy Dean||9/30/1934||CIN||W 9-0||9||7||0||0||3||7||0|
|Paul Dean||9/29/1934||CIN||W 6-1||9||11||1||1||1||6||1|
|Dizzy Dean||9/28/1934||CIN||W 4-0||9||7||0||0||0||7||0|
|Flint Rhem||5/4/1932||CIN||W 7-0||9||6||0||0||2||4||0|
|Dizzy Dean||5/3/1932||CIN||W 9-0||9||8||0||0||6||4||0|
|Syl Johnson||5/2/1932||CIN||W 2-1||9||4||1||1||2||4||0|
|Pete Alexander||5/21/1929||CIN||W 12-1||9||7||1||1||0||1||1|
|Jesse Haines||5/20/1929||CIN||W 5-1||9||8||1||1||3||1||0|
|Syl Johnson||5/19/1929||CIN||W 2-1||11||7||1||0||1||2||0|
|Bill Sherdel||8/26/1928||PHI||W 6-1||9||8||1||1||3||4||0|
|Pete Alexander||8/25/1928||PHI||W 2-1||10||3||1||0||1||2||0|
|Jesse Haines||8/24/1928||PHI||W 1-0||9||5||0||0||4||3||0|