The Cardinal Nation blog

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

D-Money chasing Big Mac and The Machine

The St. Louis Cardinals’ offensive hero the last two evenings in San Diego was infielder Daniel Descalso. His single won the game in the 11th inning Tuesday night after he singled home the go-ahead run against Padres All-Star closer Heath Bell in the ninth inning on Monday.

After Descalso’s Tuesday hit, catcher Gerald Laird was shown in the dugout rubbing the fingers on his non-broken hand together in the universal symbol for money.

“We call him D-Money,” manager Tony La Russa said about Descalso after Tuesday’s win.

This season, Descalso has now driven in nine runs from the seventh inning on with the game tied or the Cardinals down a run. This is generically called a “late and close” situation.

I asked researcher Tom Orf to put Descalso’s early-season, late-game feats into some historical perspective.

In the last 60 years, only ten Cardinals had collected at least seven late and close RBI through the end of May. Descalso makes the 11th player to do so.

With six games to go in the month, Descalso needs just two more late and close RBI to pass his teammate Albert Pujols and join his hitting coach Mark McGwire at the top of the list as the most productive early-season, late-game Cardinal since at least 1950.

Big Mac collected 11 RBI to kick off his record-breaking 70-home run season of 1998. Pujols had ten early-late RBI in what went on to become the Cardinals World Championship season of 2006.

Descalso may not reach those kinds of heights this season, but his success in crucial situations still deserves notice.

St. Louis Cardinals, late and close RBI, through end of May, 1950-present

Year Player RBI
1998 Mark McGwire 11
2006 Albert Pujols 10
2011 Daniel Descalso 9
1997 Ron Gant 9
1992 Felix Jose 8
1996 Luis Alicea 8
2008 Ryan Ludwick 8
1963 Bill White 7
1971 Joe Torre 7
1954 Stan Musial 7
1988 Geromino Pena 7

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