Across the game, we have seen how some starting pitchers seem to struggle in their first inning of work before settling down. When that occurs, invariably, the pre-game routine is altered in an attempt to improve the early results.
Well, the St. Louis Cardinals need to try something new as they open each series. After a 3-1 loss to San Diego on Tuesday night, the Cards have dropped the first game in each of their last three series.
Despite being seven games over .500 overall on the season, the club has posted a losing record in series-openers in 2014 at 17-18.
The good news is the Cards get better as they go, with a 19-15 record in second games and are even better at 19-11 in game threes. The final match of four-game series present another problem, but are rare.
The club is currently on pace for an 86-76 season, but their game two pace would get them to 91 wins and game three winning percentage of .633 would translate to 103 victories.
Those 18 series-opening losses are spread among 10 different pitchers. Though it might be tempting to point an accusing finger at Shelby Miller’s team-leading four losses in series openers, ace Adam Wainwright is right behind at three.
The real problem is the offense, which averaged under 2.2 runs per game in those 18 defeats, including being held scoreless five times.
Overall, we have yet to see these 2014 Cardinals get too low, but they also have not gotten very high, either. The club has no winning streaks of six games or more, but also had never lost more than three consecutive games until last week’s four-game skid.
While an extended winning streak would cure all, it seems unlikely at this time given the season-long offensive slumber in which the Cardinals remain.
A realistic target from which the club could see measurable and results would be if the offense could simply find some way to get out of the blocks better as their series begin. John Mabry, how about it?
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