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It ended as it began

Well, it was a good ride while it lasted – a much better season than most of us expected. We didn’t deserve to win the series. We were outpitched, outhit, and outfielded; the Dodgers were clearly the better team over the 3 game series. First of all, I wanted to deal w/ the elephant in the room – the strike zone. I’m sure there was some discussion of it last night, as there certainly was from the Cards’ dugout and, occasionally, the Cards’ batters box. The graph below shows the strikezone map for called strikes during last night’s game. You can see the farthest left red triangle is the pitch that Albert was called out on in the 6th. It was definitively not a strike. On the other hand, it wasn’t the worst call Mike Everitt made last night.


We can see that Everitt definitely called the high strike, and Padilla got several calls toward the top of the strike zone. On the other hand, he didn’t miss any balls at the top of the strike zone. He did miss 1 strike thrown by Pineiro and 1 also by Padilla but there were a couple I thought were high that were called strikes. I was wrong. If he was inaccurate, it was on the inside corner to lefties and outside corner to righties. He also missed at least 5 pitches at the bottom of the zone – 3 for the Cards and 2 for the Dodgers. However, Pineiro got the benefit of 3 balls below the knees that were inaccurately called strikes. I see nothing in this graph to indicate any sort of bias or that Pineiro was squeezed. He missed a few pitches, of course. There were 7 balls that were called strikes and the Cards got the benefit of 5 of those pitches. There were 8 strikes that were called balls and the Dodgers got the benefit of 5 of those. Overall, a pretty balanced strike zone. He did call the high strike and we could have benefited from a lower strike zone, however.

The bigger problem last night is not the graph above, but the one below. Pineiro_strike_zone_plot_medium

This is a strikezone plot of Joel Pineiro’s pitches from last night’s game. The problem is that his pitches are scattered all over the strike zone, w/ as many pitches being in the middle of the zone and above as there are in the middle of the zone and below. In order to have a successful outing, he needed to stay around the bottom of the zone and he just didn’t. And when he didn’t, they belted him. That’s the bottom line – Pineiro has a very small margin for error b/c he can’t throw the ball past hitters. If he’s not around the knees, he’s going to get hit hard and the Dodgers hit him hard. It was exactly what I was afraid of – that he would pitch as he did throughout September and not as he did the first 4 months of the season. As a result, Carp won’t get a chance to redeem himself in game 4.

As I said, the Dodgers beat us in every way possible during the series. Here are the offensive numbers from the 3 game series.

Cards 6 9 1 .262 .327 .369
Dodgers 13 10 3 .276 .358 .448

Colby Rasmus was the only Card w/ more than 1 extra base hit – he had 3 doubles. Albert had no extra base hits. And now for the pitching table:

Cards’ starters 17 19 5 13 3 4.76
Dodgers’ starters 17 19 7 10 1 2.12
Cards’ relievers 8.2 10 6 11 0 2.08
Dodgers’ relievers 10 8 1 7 0 1.80

The Cards’ relievers’ ERA is a little misleading b/c they did give up 2 HUGE unearned runs as well. The Dodgers’ starters weren’t that much better than ours were – they did get 2 good starts rather than just one – but they did manage to get out of trouble when they got into trouble. At times, we had all 3 Dodger starters on the ropes and couldn’t get the hit or 2 that we needed. The PA that definitely set the tone for the series was the Matt Holliday PA in the first inning of game 1.

All in all, we got a lot farther this year than I, or most us, anticipated. The only thing left now is to adopt a playoff team to root for. (I’d suggest NOT the Twins or Red Sox as they may not be long for the playoffs either.) The poll is below.