Lost in the rubble of Tuesday night’s bullpen failure by the St. Louis Cardinals, as represented by blown save in the ninth and a walkoff home run served up in the 11th, was the fact that it was another contest in which the offense did not put enough distance between themselves and their opposition to allow any margin for error.
I have become very weary of those citing the fact that the Cardinals lead the National League in total runs scored this season. The standings are based on individual games, not accumulated year-long stats. The fact is that the Cardinals were built to outscore their opposition, yet are consistently lacking the timely hit, not scoring enough runs when they are needed most.
Further, with 11 walkoff losses and counting this season, the bullpen has too often failed in situations with the game on the line. Across Major League Baseball, only the Washington Nationals, with 23 blown saves, have more than the Cardinals’ 21.
Exhibit A is offered on behalf of Tuesday’s starting pitcher Chris Carpenter.
There is no doubt that Carpenter contributed to his own downfall. In the third inning, he walked the opposing pitcher and yielded an infield single to the leadoff man, but could have escaped the jam had second baseman Skip Schumaker cleanly handled a double-play opportunity. Instead, a three-run home run by Neil Walker ensued.
Carpenter went on to fan a Cardinals staff season-best 10 batters, perhaps knowing that a K is the best approach to keep the ball away both from opposing bats and his fielders.
Carp did not allow any further damage after the home run, going seven full innings and leaving the tie game at 3-3.
By now, he has to be very used to not being given any room to breathe. Carpenter receives the lowest offensive run support of any Cardinals pitcher at just 4.0 runs per start this season.
Despite him receiving a “no-decision” on Tuesday, in stat terms, it was a quality start. The term is defined by a pitcher going at least six innings while allowing three or fewer runs.
That is also familiar territory for Carpenter.
Tuesday marked his 15th quality start since the beginning of last season in which Carpenter received a no-decision. That is tied for fourth-most in all of Major League Baseball.
In other words, in the view of most, Carpenter pitched well enough to win 15 more games this year and last but either did not receive enough run support, suffered a bullpen failure behind him, or both.
Here is the list of the 14 MLB pitchers with at least 12 such disappointments during this time.
No-decision quality starts, MLB, beginning of 2010 season through August 16, 2011
Thanks to researcher Tom Orf for supplying the above table.