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.
- 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|
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
|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|