i'll get to the game in a minute, but first i have to go back to this puzzle i was working on yesterday -- ie, have the cardinals just been lucky in july, or have they been good? or is it both? at first it kinda looked to me like they'd been lucky, but their ratio of runs scored v runs against during the month suggested that they have earned their record on the merits. further nosing around led me to something so strange i don't know what it is -- luck, skill, or some sort of faustian bargain. including last night's 2-1 loss, the cards have outscored their opponents 92-69 in july. yet aside from runs scored, the cards' hitting line is almost identical to their opponents' this month -- so close it's scary:
|stl: 92 runs||747||181||37||6||19||62||287||.242||.305||.384||.684|
|opp: 69 runs||747||182||38||3||22||61||292||.244||.305||.391||.691|
the cards' opponents have matched them hit for hit and homer for homer. so how in the name of solly hemus are the cardinals scoring a run a game more than their opponents? in a perfect world (that phrase again), the runs scored would be even on both sides, not skewed in stl's favor by 23 runs. if there's an explanation for the gap, it must lie outside the stats on this chart.
so i looked elsewhere, beginning with the running game. the cards have swiped 9 bases in 14 attempts this month, their opponents 3 out of 6; tiny advantage for stl, a couple of runs at the very most. factor #2: defense. the cards have committed just 9 errors in july to their opponents' 19; errors cost an average of .6 runs, so there's another 6-run advantage for st louis. also on the glove side, the cards have been turning double plays like fiends -- another 3 last night, bringing their july total to 31; they have hit into just 18 dps this month. that spread is more significant than you might think, worth about 9 runs. so let's add it up: approx 9 runs from dps, 6 from errors, and 2 from sbs -- that's 17 of our 23 runs. toss in the fact that the cards have executed three or four squeeze plays this month without a miss; postulate that the cards might hold an edge in situational stats (like two-out hits or hitting with RISP); include a little random chance (ahem, that means luck); and voila -- the mysterious gap is explained.
which means, to get back to the original question, that the cards have been both lucky and good in july. in a stretch of low-scoring, closely contested games, stl's excellence in the the vaunted "little things" -- turning dps, avoiding errors, getting down bunts, cutting off enemy running games, etc. -- has made an enormous impact. these are the reasons st louis is 14-8 this month instead of 10-12.
so, last night's ballgame. tony was up to his old tricks in the 8th, bunting the lead runner to 2d only to let marquis swing the bat for himself. tony did roughly the same thing a couple weeks back against arizona, and in that instance i could follow his reasoning; in this case i couldn't. the cards were truly desperate for a run; they hadn't had a hit in six innings, hadn't had a man in scoring position for four. for all tony knew it would be the 11th or 12th before the team advanced another man to 2d base. in this case (unlike the previous one) the cards had a full complement of bench options; granted they were all right-handed (seabol gall diaz luna and taguchi), but they are all paid to hit. maybe tony wanted to keep marquis in the game -- he had allowed only two baserunners over the previous four innings -- but jason was already at about 100 pitches, and the bullpen was rested -- neither reyes nor thompson had appeared since the weekend, and eldred threw only 8 pitches on tuesday, flores 4, king 3. maybe tony decided to play the platoon advantage and stick with the left-handed-swinging marquis. or maybe he figured it didn't matter who he sent up there -- they're all swinging like pitchers so what the hell, let the real pitcher bat . . . . . anyway given the way this offense has struggled, i thought it was the wrong decision. get john gall up there -- contact / line-drive hitter.
carp goes today, against a rookie with a 5 era. . . . . series win, and some semblance of order, still within reach.