In the fourth inning of last Tuesday's game, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart snaked a grounder off starter Lance Lynn that found its way under Pete Kozma's glove and through the left side of the Cardinals infield. Next, with Cozart running, Joey Votto pulled a bouncing ball through the yawning hole between Daniel Descalso, who broke toward second base to cover the bag, and first baseman Allen Craig, who had been holding the runner. Kayfabe superstar and Cardinaldom villain Brandon Phillips stepped to the plate with runners at the corners and one out. The nutrients from a lunch of meat, cheese, and crackers undoubtedly fueled a swing that launched a flyball deep to left field where Matt Holliday's sliding catch at the warning track turned an RBI double into a sacrifice fly. When Cozart crossed home plate, he became a bookend to one of the best stretches of pitching in Cardinals franchise history.
Jay Bruce was the next Red to dig in against Lynn. The svelte righthander made quick work of the threatening right fielder, striking him out on a 1-2 delivery. Lynn would throw 2 more scoreless innings and be relieved by Edward Mujica, Trevor Rosenthal, and Mitchell Boggs, who each notched a scoreless frame of their own. The Redbirds' 5-1 victory over the Reds ended with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless pitching from the St. Louis staff.
On Wednesday afternoon, 35-year-old Jake Westbrook took the mound for the Cards. The sinkerballer induced 16 groundouts and struck out five with his 111 pitches. The Cardinals won 10-0. It was Westbrook's first complete game shutout since 2006.
St. Louis welcomed former Cardinal Kyle Lohse to town on Friday by matching him up against his rotation replacement, rookie Shelby Miller. Lohse was good; Miller was better. In a most Lohsian performance, the new Brewer tossed seven innings, walked no one, struck out two, and surrendered just two runs on six hits. Miller showed why the Cardinals were willing to let Lohse leave, with the following line over his seven innings of work: 8 SO, 0 BB, 1 H, and 0 R. Miller gave way to Rosenthal, who threw a scoreless eight, and then Boggs secured the save without allowing a run in the ninth.
Staff ace Adam Wainwright got the ball on Saturday and picked up where his fellow pitching staffers had left off. The wagonmaker exhibited excellent command of his repertoire as the Brew Crew flailed helplessly at his offerings. Waino K'd 12 would-be hitters, did not issue a walk, and allowed just four hits in his complete game shutout.
Southpaw Jaime Garcia was the next pitcher handed the scoreless baton. Garcia took it and ran, throwing seven shutout innings yesterday against Milwaukee. After striking out five, walking two, and allowing seven hits, Garcia was replaced by Rosenthal. Jean Segura singled off the flame-throwing righty. Ryan Braun then stepped into the batter's box and clubbed a homer over the right field wall. The 2011 National League Most Valuable Player's dinger ended the St. Louis pitchers' scoreless streak at 39 1/3 innings. It is the third-longest streak of its kind in franchise history.
The 1962-63 Cardinals combined to throw 53 consecutive innings between September 28, 1962 and April 14, 1963. On September 28, 1962, Larry Jackson tossed notched ten innings against the Dodgers, the final three of which were scoreless. Ernie Broglio threw a two-hit, complete game shutout of the Dodgers in the penultimate game of the '62 season. Curt Simmons followed Broglio with a five-hit complete game shutout on the season's final day. On Opening Day in '63, Broglio shut-out the Mets. Ray Washburn shut them out again the next day. Then it was Simmons, who contributed another nine innings of shutout pitching to the streak. On April 14, Broglio started against the Phillies and threw five scoreless frames before allowing a run with no outs in the sixth. Coincidentally enough, the franchise's longest pitching scoreless streak ended 50 years to the day its third-longest came to an end yesterday at Busch.
In 1943, the Cardinals put together another impressive string of scoreless pitching. Howie Krist gave up three runs against the Phillies on July 5 that year, but he finished a complete game and didn't allow a run after the third inning. Harry Gumbert threw a complete game shutout of Philly the next day while allowing just three hits. The Redbirds took their act to Boston and shut the Braves out in three consecutive games. Mort Cooper did it on July 9, Howie Pollett on the 10th, and Gumbert in the first game of a doubleheader on the 11th. The shutout-inning streak came to an end in the second game of that Sunday doubleheader when the Braves scored in the first inning off Max Lanier. So ended the staff's 42 innings of shutout pitching.
Entering the season, starting pitching was a question mark for the Cardinals. Could Wainwright regain his ace form? Will Garcia stay healthy? How will Miller perform as a member of the rotation? Will Lynn be able to improve on his solid first year in the rotation? While a stretch of 39 1/3 innings in April do not answer any of those questions, they are an impressive feat that enticingly flashed just how good this rotation could be.