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The best 2014 St. Louis Cardinals starts that were squandered by bad batting

The Cardinals' starting pitching has been very good this year, but their hitting has been bad. This has led to the club squandering some excellent starts.

Nice try, kid. Here's a pitching "no decision" for your efforts.
Nice try, kid. Here's a pitching "no decision" for your efforts.
Scott Cunningham

Last night, St. Louis Cardinals starter Tyler Lyons pitched an excellent game. The southpaw notched seven strikeouts and allowed just one run on four hits and a walk over six innings. But Braves starter Gavin Floyd was a bit more stifling of the Cardinals bats, allowing just one run over seven innings. The Braves wound up winning the game 2-1 as the Redbirds squandered yet another excellent start from the rotation.

The Cardinals have held their opponents to a mere two runs on three occasions so far this season and lost every game (.000 winning percentage). St. Louis has also lost one of the three games in which they held their opponent to just one run (.667), and are 4-4 when the other team plates three (.500). For comparison, MLB teams overall had a .647 winning percentage when holding their opponents to three runs entering play Tuesday night, .732 when the opposition plates two runs, and .850 when allowing just one run. Overall, the Cards are 6-8 when the other club scores three, two, or one run, which works out to a .429 winning percentage. MLB as a whole had posted a .778 winning percentage in such games entering play last night.

Needless to say, such underperformance means that the Cardinals have received some very good starts in losses. So I decided to rank El Birdos' good starts in team losses using Game Score, a stat invented by Bill James to grade out pitching performances that is calculated as follows:

  • Start with 50 points
  • Add one point for each out recorded (or three points per inning pitched)
  • Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth
  • Add one point for each strikeout
  • Subtract two points for each hit allowed
  • Subtract four points for each earned run allowed
  • Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed
  • Subtract one point for each walk issued

Game Score is by no means perfect, but it's familiar and gives us an approximation by which to compare pitchers' outings on given nights.

May 3 vs. Chicago - Michael Wacha: 57

Last Saturday, Wacha pitched a solid game at Wrigley. The righty tossed six innings and allowed two runs (both earned). He struck out six Cubs, walked three, and surrendered five hits (including a dinger). The Cardinals offense was blanked, though, so the team lost 3-0.

April 20 vs. Washington - Shelby Miller: 62

No start on this list better exemplifies how imperfect Game Score can be. Miller K'd seven Nats, walked five, and allowed four hits over 5 1/3 innings.  Despite having nine baserunners reach base safely against Miller, Washington didn't manage a run—earned or otherwise—off the Texan. At the end of the day, however, the Nats topped the Cards' meager two-run output with three runs against the St. Louis relief corps and won the game.

April 6 vs. Pittsburgh - Adam Wainwright: 62

Wainwright went seven innings deep and allowed just two runs while notching seven strikeouts. The Pirates managed to plate two runs (both earned) on a combination of five hits and two walks. But the Cardinals offense only generated a single run on three hits and two walks. Pittsburgh defeated the Cards 2-1.

April 18 vs. Washington - Michael Wacha: 66

Wacha K'd seven over seven innings of work while walking nobody. The Nats plated three runs (one earned) on five hits against the reigning NLCS MVP. St. Louis rapped out fives hits and worked three walks, but only one of the Redbird baserunners reached home. Washington beat the Cards 3-1.

May 6 vs. Atlanta - Tyler Lyons: 66

Lyons posted the following line: 6 IP, 7 SO, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER. The Cardinals offense cracked just three hits and drew only two walks. As a result, El Birdos plated just one run. After the bullpen allowed a late run, the Cards lost 2-1.

April 2 vs. Cincinnati - Michael Wacha: 74

Wacha was masterful in that dreary game. The Aggie allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven Reds, walked one, and allowed just three hits. The Cardinals drew three walks and matched that total with three hits. Only one of their baserunners reached home safely and St. Louis lost 2-1.