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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wasting Opportunities

By Cardinal 70

The Cardinals seem to be unable to get into a winning groove like they did the first week of the season. Every time they get a winning streak started, they seem to snap it quickly.

Mike on the Cards (note the new site, BTW) mentioned the Cardinals leaving runners on base. Seemed like a reasonable symptom of a struggling offense, not able to get the big hit. So I did some rough research and compared LOB for wins vs. LOB for losses.

What I found was a little surprising. In the Cardinals' 16 wins so far this season, they've stranded 133 batters, which works out to 8.3 batters per win. In their 11 losses, they've stranded 98, or 8.9 batters per loss. That's a little skewed by the 16 they left in the 12 inning loss to Milwaukee, so removing that would put the two categories just about even.

More recently, they are 4-4 in their last 8 games. In the wins, they strand 8.75. In the losses, 11.25. That counts that 16 LOB game as well, but the last few losses have been more frustrating in this regard than earlier ones.

Of course, not all LOB are created equal. Walking the seventh guy to load the bases for the pitcher leaves 3 on base if he strikes out, but we don't expect much in that situation. Runners on second and third, one out and no one scores, that's a different story. But right now I don't have time to go through the play-by-play data and figure out a weighting method.

Suffice it to say, the Cards haven't been all that efficient in scoring their baserunners, whether it's been a win or a loss. It might be interesting, though, to see if that's a product of most good offenses. Because more hits, more chances to leave runners on. For example, Houston only left 3 runners on in their 3-2 win over St. Louis on Friday, but that's because they went through a stretch where 16 batters were retired in a row. Can't leave 'em on if they don't get on in the first place.

Anyway, to the game. I wasn't able to see much of it. Sounds like if Wellemeyer had been able to get loose early, the results might have been different. That's the way it goes, of course. Some nights it takes longer than others.

The Hero award looks like it should go to Rick Ankiel, who got off of his homerless slide, plus had a double and was responsible for two of the Cardinals three runs. If he's going to be a streaky hitter, it looks like he might be going on another binge.

The Goat, in my mind, will go to Chris Duncan. I know he went two for five, which is good. But he cost the Cards what turned out to be the game-deciding run by losing a fly ball and then, with the tying run on first and two outs in the ninth, swung at the first pitch instead of having a little patience. Maybe he was expecting Cordero to challenge him, being that is what closers do, but he'd have had to get an extra-base hit to get Pujols around to score. Glaus was up behind him, so it's not like he was the last chance. Maybe it wasn't a bad play, but in my mind it seemed he should have been a little more patient.

And apparently TLR's selection of Ludwick as the leadoff man wasn't that inspired, since he went 0-5 with 4 K. Whether it was just a bad night or being in a different spot in the lineup, I don't know. Theoretically, where you bat shouldn't have that much of an impact on you, but it apparently does for some players.

Today, the Cards take on the rookie Johnny Cueto and they counter with Joel Pineiro. Obviously, the Cardinals have no history against Cueto, which can cause problems. One of my pet theories is TLR prepares the team so well statistically that when they don't have a baseline against a pitcher, they have trouble adjusting. Hopefully that'll be proven wrong tonight.

Cueto had an amazing debut, allowing one hit and striking out 10 in seven innings. Since then, though, he's been a little more hittable. In fact, twice in his last three outings he's allowed five runs and his road ERA is 5.11. If LaRussa looks at the stats, he may not put all his lefties out there, as Cueto has been limiting them to a .184 average.

Being that he spent most of his career in the American League, the Reds haven't seen much of Pineiro. What they have seen, though, they've liked. A team .357 average against him, though the player with the most AB, Scott Hatteburg, is only hitting .241 and only Corey Patterson has a home run against him.

Could be a low scoring affair tonight if both pitchers live up to their potential.

Also note that it has been one year since the tragic death of Josh Hancock. Derrick Goold takes a look at that and the changes that resulted from it. It was interesting to note that the Cards have basically designated 32 as "temporarily retired" for a few years.

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