The second half has not begun the way the St. Louis Cardinals would have envisioned. The club lost five of six road contests to National League Central Division rivals Cincinnati and Milwaukee.
During that stretch, the games were close. The Cardinals received good pitching, but the offense often misfired when it mattered most. They had plenty of scoring chances, though. The problem was bringing them home. In 51 at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Cards’ hitters managed only eight hits.
The bottom line for the offense was that they scored just 15 runs in total, plating three or fewer runs in all six contests.
Researcher Tom Orf helps put this current stretch of offensive frustration into context. This is the 22nd time since 1980 that the club has scored no more than three runs in any game over a stretch of at least six games.
The current streak pales in comparison to the longest offensive slowdown by the team during this time. The 1988 Cardinals suffered through a dozen consecutive outings in which they plated three or less.
Two other teams had nine-game stretches. The most recent one parallels this season, as it occurred during the summer of 2007, when the Cardinals were defending their last World Series title prior to 2011.
On one hand, one might not be concerned about all this. The raw frequency indicates that on the average, this happens more years than not (22 times in 33 years). On the other, 2012 marks only the fifth time it has occurred in the last 10 years.
Further, despite all the recent success of the Cardinals, there is very little intersection of playoff baseball with these streaky low-scoring teams. In only two of these years did the Cardinals teams that endured a six-game stretch of low run-scoring go on to make the post-season (see “PS” column at right of table below).
One was back in 1996. Tony La Russa’s first St. Louis club made the playoffs after the organization had endured a decade of falling short.
The other was at the start of the roller-coaster 2011 season – a comeback campaign like no other – one that offers hope no matter how concerning the current situation might appear.
Most consecutive games scoring three or fewer runs, St. Louis Cardinals, 1980-present (listed from most recent)