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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals Log a Losing Record in Series Openers

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.


162-game pace
Series Wins Losses Percent
Wins Losses
Game 1 17 18 0.486 79 83
Game 2 19 15 0.559 91 71
Game 3 19 11 0.633 103 59
Game 4 1 5 0.167 27 135
56 49 0.533 86 76

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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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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33 Responses to “Cardinals Log a Losing Record in Series Openers”

  1. Bw52 says:

    Nice effort by Lynn wasted by pathetic offense.Why Craig?

  2. Bw52 says:

    With the Cards getting Masterson I read that Wacha was moved to the 60-day DL to free up a roster spot for Masterson.What are the ramifications of Wacha to the 60 DL?Is this just a procedural move or is Wacha pretty much done for year?I thought Wacha was feeling better and going to try for a September return.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Wacha is still eligible to return this season as 60-day DL moves can be retroactive. He was placed on the 15-day DL on June 23, so can return in late August – if his shoulder cooperates.

      • Bw52 says:

        Thanks for the info.I read about it in your article on the trade.If Masterson contributes and I think he will I wonder if Cards will be more conservative with Wacha?Of course that`s providing Miller and Kelly pull their weight.

  3. crdswmn says:

    Well I am not elated at the acquisition of Masterson, but likely Mozeliak found the price for better options too high. Ramsey was blocked in AA and I was never overly high on him in the first place.

    Word is there is not much on the market bat-wise. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mozeliak is now done.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Masterson, IIRC, went to baseball backwater Bethel College in Mishawacka, IN. A catcher too tall for the position, they shifted him to pitcher as a sophmore. Masterson then transferred to San Diego State for a junior spring of collegiate eligibility in 2006. He was highly suited to Daddy Duncan, since he threw a great sinker. However, the Cards blew it, selecting LHP Brad Furnish. (In 2007, possibly in recompense, Luhnow elevated Mortenson from Gonzaga to the supplemental first round; Mortenson like Masterson reputed to throw a good sinker.) Boston cleverly chose Masterson low in the second round in 2006, after our ill-fated choice of Furnish, then traded him toward Martinez the switch-hitting catcher.
    Masterson has had some good seasons for the Indians. Yet something odd has gone on between him and the Indians, this year. He offered to sign a below market 3 year extension this spring, yet the Indians mysteriously elected to decline.
    Masterson could be a very helpful addition. I am not too worried about reputed loss of velocity, given a sinkerballer. A big man who can eat innings. He is healthier than Wacha and Garcia, for the time being. Facing NL lineups should help his ERA.
    Its a good deal for Ramsay, who could get more opportunity in Cleveland.
    The Cards can surrender Ramsay, also having Jay, Tilson, Pham, etc.
    No surprise the Cards can figure out a deal with Cleveland. We have sent them Chris Perez, Anthony Reyes, and Rzepcynski in the past. Probably a mental relief for Mo to talk to the Indians, instead of kookier teams.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Masterson has 93Ks in 99 innings, a strong K rate, especially for a sinkerballer.
      Only three pitchers have had a higher groundball rate the past few years. He has only given up 6 HRs this year (a refreshing contrast with Jason Motte who has given up more dingers in only 21 innings!).

      The Indians have had horrible luck with outfielders. Grady Sizemore suffered many injuries. They shelled out huge bucks for Bourn and Swisher, both having lousy years. Ramsey is a better hitter than Tyler Naquin, first rounder by the Indians in 2012.

      A good trade helps both teams.

  5. CariocaCardinal says:

    Masterson is supposed to be better than whom in our rotation? I give Mp the benefit of the doubt but my hunch is that this was a bad trade.

    • Bw52 says:

      By what sane reason is that a bad trade?Ramsey profiles as a 4th OF type.Sorry CC don`t see the downside.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        too bad you never have the courage of your convictions to even make a symbolic wager – I’ll bet Ramsey becomes a starting OF in the major leagues. My guess is he’ll be in the majors next year.

        • Bw52 says:

          CC the internet badass.My bet is I don`t give a damn if he is a major league OF in Cleveland.

          • CariocaCardinal says:

            Better to be an internet badass than an internet blowhard. at least i have the courage to back up what i say rather than throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

            • Bw52 says:

              CC- what`s to backup? Is your opinon law now? Just because you contribute a report does that make yor word right?I state my opinion.Last I heard people can change opinions.You don`t like that line of thinking then I can`t help you.

      • CariocaCardinal says:

        Trade analysis isn’t always just about who you get an who you give up. It also include who you dont get, who get’s replaced in the lineup and other factors.

        • blingboy says:

          An important aspect of a trade that doesn’t seem to get considered by onlookers is that a particular guy’s value is not cast in stone. His value is different to different teams. Ramsey, for example, had relatively low value to the Cards because we weren’t going to have any use for him at the MLB level any time soon, if at all, within the period of control. Likewise, Craig and Kelly were other players we can do without, no problem. Mo traded guys with low value to us to teams that value them more because there is a greater need for them. I have seen is said that we could have gotten ‘more’ for Craig and Kelly. But ‘more’ of what? More of talent that has value to somebody else because they need it. We traded stuff we didn’t need for stuff we do need. That really is the proper way to analyse the trades, IMO.

        • Bw52 says:

          No Sh*t Sherlock.You sure must think you are the only person who knows anything about baseball.

  6. Bw52 says:

    CC you ought to be happy Cards didn`t trade your boy Pham.

  7. Bw52 says:

    Cards offense pathetic again.Cards going to get swept by Padres.Nobody hitting.Taveras has a chance to shine and so far…………nada.Kelly won`t get into the 6th.

  8. Bw52 says:

    So gang anything interesting happen today?

  9. JumboShrimp says:

    Mo has added Pryzinski and Lackey from Boston and 29 year sold sinkerballer Masterson. We needed more maturity. We are not far out of first. These trades signal a serious attempt to reach the playoffs, not dilly dally around any longer.
    Craig suffered a tough injury last September. He has had a hard time bouncing back. If Craig can get back to past performance, he could be a big asset for the Sox. Fenway should give him a good hitting environment.
    Kelly has terrific velocity on a sinker, and was fantastic down the stretch in 2013. He could excel in Boston, either as a closer as in college or starter. A good pickup for Boston.
    However, for 14-15, Lackey gives the Birds a reliable starter to consume more innings, helping the pen. The minor league lefty in the deal could be a good asset. We get a couple of months to look at Masterson and consider whether to bid on him this after he reaches free agency, a situation not unlike Matt Holliday in 2009. Meanwhile, we have Taveras, Grichuk, and Piscotty coming up, who can backfill Craig. The deals should help all teams involved.

  10. Bw52 says:

    Agree Jumbo.Something needed to be done.Joe Kelly had great stuff but he could rarely control it .Craig is a mystery about how a player can go South in a hurry.It happens and sometimes a bounce back to previous levels happens.Lackey should be a solid veteran arm for low dollars and as you say Masterson mght like STL and want to stay.
    Taveras homered today and maybe he will settle in a show his talent.Cards now have a cushion if Wacha misses the rest of the season.Thanks and good luck to Joe Kelly and Craig except when playing the Cards.

  11. Bw52 says:

    Shelby Miller and Cards did the job today.Glad I was wrong about being swept.

  12. blingboy says:

    So, Joltin Joe high socks Kelly is gone. I had only just gotten over Colby’s brother quitting.

    Wow. Mo unloaded Craig’s contract. Great job. And a $5 Million reduction in next year’s payroll obligations. And he solves the Taveras playing time problem.

    Lackey, like that other new guy, has won some most hated titles, I believe. Bring it on Mo. A good loser is just a guy who’s good at losing.

    Its so funny. All the blather about pitching depth we heard for the last year and Mo trades for 40% of a rotation at the deadline. And decides to ride it out with the second worst offense in MLB.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I hope Craig passes his physical… 😉

      • blingboy says:

        I’m sure our med staff didn’t sew his foot on backwards or anything. Sort of sure.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Interesting reversal of field from a guy who was convinced there was a hidden injury as recently as earlier this week. Clearly the Sox are smart enough not to assume close to $30 million of liability on damaged goods.

          • blingboy says:

            Well, yes, the undisclosed injury theory took a hit.

            But, I remain convinced that physical issues are responsible for Craig’s radically different look at the plate and poor results. He may be able to bounce back somewhat after adjusting to his body not being what it was, sort of like Freese and Albert have this year. But not like he was.

            I don’t think it is extraordinary for the Red Sox to gamble on Craig. The money is not so big for them. And it has to be viewed as a package with Kelly, who will be a cheap middle of rotation guy for a few years. He could have pretty good results in Fenway. I have even seen it said that Kelly might be their best starter as of now. And Craig would not have to return to his former glory to be worth the contract given what players cost. In other words, it could work out well for them without Craig becoming his old self.

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