Committing errors is one thing – allowing the opposition to score runs as a result is another – a much more damaging result.
On Sunday night in the National League Championship Series Game 6, a miscue by Pete Kozma in the second inning exacted a high toll on his St. Louis Cardinals. The shortstop lost control on the transfer after fielding pitcher Ryan Vogelsong’s slow roller, costing the Cardinals a sure out.
The San Francisco Giants went on to score four runs in the inning against Chris Carpenter, three unearned. That established a deficit from which St. Louis could not recover in the 6-1 loss.
Shaky defense leading to damaging unearned runs has been a recurring theme in this NLCS, with all three of St. Louis’ losses seriously impacted in this manner.
Lance Lynn‘s ill-advised fourth-inning throwing error to a late-covering Kozma in Game 5 of the NLCS turned out to be the major play in that pivotal contest. All four Giants runs that frame were unearned as they went on to a 5-0 win.
The same problem occurred in the Cardinals’ Game 2 defeat. Errors by Carpenter and Matt Holliday contributed to a four-run fourth inning. Just as would later occur in Game 6, three of the five runs charged to Carpenter were unearned.
That makes 10 unearned runs in the three Cardinals losses, the most against any team in NLCS history – with one game remaining. The 2001 Atlanta Braves were the previous “leader” with nine. Arizona took that series, four games to one.
The all-time record for unearned runs allowed in any post-season series is 13 by the California Angels in the 1986 ALCS, a series in which they lost to Boston in seven games.
Earlier in this post-season, the Cardinals were edged by Washington in Game 1 of the NLDS by a 3-2 score. The Nats came from behind to win with two unearned runs in an eighth inning that began with a Kozma fielding error.
In total, the Cardinals have taken four losses in this post-season during which multiple unearned runs were scored by their opponents.
The problem isn’t errors themselves, as the team has committed just six in 12 post-season games, not an unusual amount. The issue is that they can’t seem to recover from them. As the table below indicates, over 25 percent of their post-season runs allowed have been unearned, compared to less than seven percent during the regular season.
Facing their third elimination game of this post-season on Monday night, the Cardinals need to play a flawless defensive game – or at least not let their miscues unravel them. That has occurred only three times in the first six NLCS contests.
|2012 Cardinals||Games||Errors||Errors/game||Runs allowed||Unearned runs||% runs unearned|