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Cardinals walk off losses on record pace

There are losses, then there are crushing, painful defeats absorbed on enemy turf as seemingly-winnable games escape your grasp. Making matters even worse is to have to trudge off the field as the opponents’ jubilant on-field celebration occurs in your very midst.

If you perceive the St. Louis Cardinals are losing an uncharacteristically high number of games this season in walk off fashion, you are absolutely correct.

The Cardinals suffered their 10th walk off defeat of the 2011 campaign in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon in an especially sloppily-played game. Making the loss even more painful than the basic fact that the contest was given away was that both a series sweep and a winning road trip were on the line.

(I will not recap the long list of Sunday blunders here, but if interested, you can read the daily – and always free – “Major League Notebook” at The Cardinal Nation. The notebook includes video of manager Tony La Russa and one central figure, catcher Gerald Laird, trying to explain the day’s events.)

I asked researcher Tom Orf to help put those 10 walk off losses into perspective in comparison to the 15 previous years of the La Russa reign in St. Louis.

Tom was able to pull almost all of the appropriate game-by-game data. The numbers below include all walk offs occurring as the result of RBI or errors – the most common drivers by far. #Excluded from the table are the rare cases of such a loss resulting from a passed ball or wild pitch.

My summary:

  • The 10 walk offs suffered by the 2011 Cardinals are the most of any St. Louis team in the La Russa era through July 24.
  • In fact, if the season ended today, or if the team absorbed no more walk off defeats the rest of the way, the current total would place the 2011 club in a tie for the third-worst walk off loss season of the 16 TLR years.
  • Further, if the Cards continue to take these defeats at the current pace established over their first 55 road games, the projected total of 15 at the end of the 2011 season would set a new La Russa era team futility record.

St. Louis Cardinals, number of walk off losses#, through July 24 and full season, 1996-present

Year Losses through 7/24 Season losses
2011 10 15*
2010 7 10
2009 5 7
2008 9 13
2007 2 4
2006 2 10
2005 2 4
2004 3 4
2003 7 9
2002 3 4
2001 3 5
2000 1 4
1999 6 10
1998 8 8
1997 6 11
1996 6 9
* pace

One can see that in many late seasons, the Cardinals slowed the rate of absorption of these most painful losses. Yet in other years, such as in 2006, more walk off defeats occurred as the schedule drew to its close. The current trend is not positive. As the table below indicates, the Cards have suffered as many walk offs in July, three, as in the months of May and June combined.

There is still time for the organization to make moves in an attempt to stem the tide of these demoralizing defeats, whether it is a shoring up of the relief corps, an improvement of team defense or a combination of the two.

Further, to become a playoff team, the remaining Cardinals need to play better fundamental baseball on a consistent basis and most especially when the game is on the line.

2011 St. Louis Cardinals, walk off losses# by game, through July 24

Date Pitcher Opp Batter Score Play Inn RoB Out R
4/8/2011 Brian Tallet @SFG Aaron Rowand tied 4-4 1B b12 123 2 1
4/9/2011 Ryan Franklin @SFG Miguel Tejada ahead 2-1 2B b9 12- 2 2
4/17/2011 Ryan Franklin @LAD Matt Kemp ahead 1-0 HR b9 -2- 0 2
4/26/2011 Mitchell Boggs @HOU Bill Hall tied 5-5 1B b9 123 1 1
5/1/2011 Ryan Franklin @ATL Brooks Conrad tied 5-5 1B b9 12- 1 1
5/13/2011 Jason Motte @CIN Joey Votto tied 5-5 1B b10 12- 2 1
6/16/2011 Fernando Salas @WSN Danny Espinosa tied 4-4 HR b10 12- 1 3
7/15/2011 Fernando Salas @CIN Brandon Phillips ahead 5-4 HR b9 1– 2 2
7/20/2011 Fernando Salas @NYM Angel Pagan tied 5-5 HR b10 1 1
7/24/2011 Jason Motte @PIT Chase d’Arnaud tied 3-3 SF b10 –3 1 1

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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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50 Responses to “Cardinals walk off losses on record pace”

  1. friendmouse says:

    The two worst, imo, were the April 9 and July 15 losses…victory at hand with the lead and 2 outs. Then, BINGO! Game over; we lose.

    But, Mr. Orf, how about the “positive” side of this phenomenon…how many walk-offs and their respective circumstances have we been the victors in? My guess would be not even half the number of our opponents’. I wonder why. Could the quality [sic] of our closers be at issue?

    Thank you for this particular blog…I LOVE these kinds of facts. This specific topic is one I’ve been quite curious about for a couple of years, but had just never gotten the precise facts.

    • Brian Walton says:

      friend, thanks for the compliment. In background, I chose the glass half empty view shown here, which is topical based on Sunday’s game. In Tom’s defense, he just provided the data I requested.

      The flip side is a fair question, though I see walk off wins more as an indication of clutch hitting than bullpen failure (or defensive lapses). It would depend on whether the game was close all along or the Cards blew a lead only to come back.

      Of course, the base populations are mutually exclusive. By definition, walk off losses occur on the road while walk off wins are always at home.

      Another good question you raise is the comparative population. I could have chosen other MLB clubs this season to compare StL against rather than stack this year’s team up against past StL teams. Because the quality varies so much across MLB, I often select the TLR years as the yardstick – comparing the various Cardinals teams to each other. Some of the data pulls can be unwieldy if I make the aperture too wide. The totals shown here are almost always backed by a pull of each individual game, then totaled manually.

  2. Bw52 says:

    Still since Franklin is gone i see only ONE Blown Save walkoff by Salas.Good points aabout the game being close or comebacks .

    • Brian Walton says:

      The blown save stat is another to consider. Take yesterday. Lynn took the blown save and IMO deserved it. Motte took the walk off loss though three or four members of his defense were at least as responsible.

      I am not sure why any of Salas’ problems prior to Franklin leaving should be considered differently from his problems since. Or maybe I misunderstood the point.

      • Bw52 says:

        Brian-just pointing that since Franklins early blowups there has only been the one Walkoff Blown Save by the pen.Saying Salas has done a good job overall.Only 3 blown save walkoffs this season and Salas was the victim once.Perhaps i wasn`t exact enough in my point………………Salas has done quite well.

  3. Brian Walton says:

    Monday lineup: Theriot, ss; Jay, rf; Pujols, 1b; Holliday, lf; Freese, 3b; Molina, c; Rasmus, cf; Punto, 2b; McClellan, rhp.

    Berkman gets a day off against a team he crushes.

    • RCWarrior says:

      I don’t get it Brian……….Berkman needs to be in the game imo. Descalso as well. Ryan and Colby should be sitting today on the dugout railing with a nice cold bottle of water and a bag of davis seeds at their disposal.

      • crdswmn says:

        We are playing the worst team in the league. Berkman will have three more opportunities to punish his old team and Colby needs to play. Theriot can sit in the dugout though. 🙂

      • Brian Walton says:

        From what I have heard about the condition of the new sod, having the faster outfielders playing might also prove to be a good idea. It will be very interesting to see how the new field plays. Hopefully it will not be a factor for either team.

    • crdswmn says:

      BJ Rains tweeted Berkman out with right rotator cuff strain.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        BJ’s report is in error. Here is the real scoop.

        Berkman has a sore trot muscle in his leg from all the home run trotting he has to do. The only way to stop Lance from clobbering the Astros and thereby aggravating his sore trot muscle is to sit him down.

    • blingboy says:

      If the Cards and Sox are talking as seriously as reported by the P-D it would be reasonable for the Sox to have a guy sitting behind the plate hoping to observe Colby. We’ve probably got a guy watching them and their AAA team.

    • Bw52 says:

      Crdswmn-IMO fans are down on Colby for poor CF play,A perceived lack of urgency and a general lack of give-a-damn.If Cards can get a cost effective cost controlled return for him.It might work out better for all parties.Just for the record i voted to move Theriot to 2B in your poll.

    • Kansasbirdman says:

      I agree on the defensive front. Seems that a good defensive hold is more effective than racking up runs late.

  4. crdswmn says:

    My cable is out so I will be watching the game on Gameday. Damn Mediacom, the cable has been out since this morning.

  5. blingboy says:

    No arch shape in the outfield grass.

  6. blingboy says:

    Nice job by Colby backing up Holliday.

  7. JumboShrimp says:

    The Astros are going to be feeling Happless before long.

  8. Kansasbirdman says:

    I know I am a little behind on the events so far (I have had a bottle in one hand and baby in the other) but it seems I remember in the 2006 WS the detriot right fielder slipping on a fly ball and it scoring a run and winning the game. The pence slip reminded me.
    Good to see Yadi taking out the base steal attempt after the flubs yesterday by Laird.

  9. Kansasbirdman says:

    Is that three games in a row for yadi hitting a hr?

  10. Kansasbirdman says:

    Why do the keepp pitching Yadi low and away?

  11. Kansasbirdman says:

    Two game hr streak for colby now

  12. Kansasbirdman says:

    I wish they would show the slip from the 06 WS, seems like it won the game, I might be imagining it. I think it was the tigers rfer. If I tweeted, id tell fx mw to show it.

  13. JumboShrimp says:

    Colby is doing less of a leg lift on his last two HRs. They still went a long way, because he was quick to the ball. If Rasmus keeps looking good, he should sidestep a trade to the south side of Chicago. It will be hard for the White Sox to provide a good enough package to land Rasmus.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      The way it would have to work would be for the White Sox to trade slugger Carlos Quentin. Quentin could land prospects they could turn around and send to St Louis with Edwin Jackson and Matt Thornton, in a deal for Colby and Bryan Anderson, etc.
      A lot of moving pieces and hard to bring off. But Kenny Williams seems decisive, like Mo. So the rumor seems plausible.
      The White Sox are frustrated, as they should be, with overpaid Alex Rios and Adam Dunn. Colby can park Rios on the bench.

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