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One (Run) is the Loneliest Number

Sure, one-run games are talked about every now and then... but what about the games that teams score just one run?

Greg Fiume

Today, friends, is a day I didn't picture happening. This is an exciting day for me, not only as a member of VEB, but as a sports journalist as well.

I don't know how long I will contribute here, as several things play a part in it, but I will do the best I can. I take writing very seriously. I look forward to being a part of the VEB authoring community, no matter how long or short the run lasts. Thanks to Ben for allowing me to contribute, and a tip of the cap to all contributors - past and present - who've called VEB their blogging home. It truly is an honor to be a part of this community.

That being said, while I will not change my screenname to my actual name (because of familiarity and the fact that I'd like to remain semi-anonymous), you can call me Joel if you'd like.

Now, let's talk some baseball, shall we?

The Cardinals have played 80 games so far in 2014. The team has had 13 games in which they've scored just one run, and they've been 4-9 in those games. Here's a breakdown, with a fancy little table...

Game # Date Result Opponent Cardinals starting pitcher # of innings pitched (decision) Opponent starting pitcher (decision) How the one run scored
# of Cardinal hits in game
1 3/31 W 1-0 @ CIN Wainwright 7 (win) Johnny Cueto (loss) Molina solo HR, 7th inning 5
6 4/6 L 2-1 @ PIT Wainwright 7 (loss) Edinson Volquez (no decision) Jay triple (scoring Carpenter), 6th 3
15 4/16 L 5-1 @ MIL Kelly 4 (left w/ hamstring injury; loss) Wily Peralta (win) Craig solo HR, 6th 9
17 4/18 L 3-1 @ WSH Wacha 7 (loss) Gio Gonzalez (win) Ellis single (scoring Craig), 5th 5
23 4/24 L 5-1 @ NY Mets Lynn 6 1/3 (loss) Bartolo Colon (win) Cruz double (scoring Wong), 5th 4
24 4/25 W 1-0 vs PIT Miller 5 2/3 (win) Gerrit Cole (loss) Holliday double (scoring Carpenter), 1st 8
25 4/26 L 6-1 vs PIT Lyons 6 (loss) Francisco Liriano (no decision) Holliday double (scoring Carpenter), 5th 5
34 5/6 L 2-1 @ ATL Lyons 6 (no decision) Gavin Floyd (no decision) Holliday single (scoring Carpenter), 5th 6
62 6/6 L 3-1 @ TOR Lynn 5 (loss) Marcus Stroman (win) Craig single (scoring Carpenter), 1st 7
65 6/10 W 1-0 @ TB Wainwright 7 (win) Jake Odorizzi (loss) Holliday solo HR, 6th 3
67 6/13 W 1-0 vs WSH Lynn 8 (win) Jordan Zimmermann (loss) Adams solo HR, 2nd 5
73 6/19 L 4-1 vs PHI Miller 6 2/3 (loss) David Buchanan (win) Carpenter single (scoring Peralta), 8th 4
74 6/20 L 5-1 vs PHI Garcia 5 (loss) A.J. Burnett (complete game win) Holliday single (scoring Carpenter, 3rd) 7

Total hits: 71

Average: 5.46

In summary:

  • The only game in which the starting pitcher did not get the losing decision - the game against Gavin Floyd and the Braves that Tyler Lyons started on May 6 - was a game in which Pat Neshek gave Randy Choate the loss. Neshek gave up an RBI single to Chris Johnson in the 8th inning after Choate allowed a runner to reach base.
  • Holliday was the player hitting the lone run in in the most games (five), and Carpenter was the runner scoring the most (six times).
  • 8 of the games had runs scored in the 5th inning or later, and the Cards scored their lone run in the 1st inning in just two instances.
  • Wainwright and Lynn pitched the most games with this outcome (three each). All of Wainwright's starts lasted 7 innings.
  • Three of the Cardinals' four 1-0 wins had the run scored by a solo home run, with three different Redbirds hitting the longball.
  • 16 percent of the Cardinals' games so far in 2014 have ended with them scoring one run.

How do the Cards stack up against the rest of the National League in these one-run games?

  • The Cardinals lead the NL in wins with games in which they've scored one run. The Marlins and Braves, who are second with 3 wins apiece in this situation, are also the only other teams in the NL to have 10 or more games with one run scored (Atlanta is 3-10, Miami 3-7).
  • The Cardinals have more wins in games with one run scored than the rest of the NL Central combined (3). Milwaukee (1-4), Cincinnati (1-7), and Pittsburgh (1-6) are the three teams with wins (Chicago is 0-6.)
  • The NL West is a combined 1-46 in games with exactly one run scored. The Padres are the worst offender, with an 0-13 record. The first win was the Dodgers' 1-0 victory against the Cardinals last night.

When it comes to the Cardinals, is there a pattern with much of this? Not really. It offers some moments of no surprise - such as games that feature no-namers (Buchanan) shutting the offense down, pitchers that the Cards routinely struggle against (Liriano, Gonzalez) giving the offense fits, and those that are just head-scratchers (Stroman having made just his 2nd big league start, or Floyd making his first start since coming back from TJ) giving fans a frequent uneasy feeling. The patterns that fans are used to seeing the Cardinals pull off still exist.

How does the offense at this point in the season compare to the 2013 Cards? On June 24 last year, the Redbirds stood at 47-29 and had scored 372 runs - averaging 4.89 runs a game in 76 games. In contrast, the '14 team was 42-35 and had scored 289 runs, averaging 3.75 runs a game in 77 contests (before the start of Tuesday's game against Colorado).

A major difference between the two squads? The Cards of yesteryear scored one run in a game just four times. It should be granted that the Cardinals from a season ago were vastly different, in part because of the offensive production (a non-injured and on-fire Craig, having Beltran in the outfield, and success in the RISP department so good that it would make the creators of the MLB The Show video game series blush). And as frustrating as it was to have Ty Wigginton still on the ballclub, Jake Westbrook had done a superb job at this stage in 2013. Both the pitching and offense were holding their own, and both aspects of the 2014 Cardinals are, to paraphrase Delbert McClinton, standing on shaky ground.

Now, this is not solely blaming the Cardinals because of one stat (mind you, a rather obscure one). But, as the team is rumored to be in the running for pitching on the trade market, it's possible that the front office should find a solution to the offense as well as the struggling (and currently ailing) rotation.

What moves are made remain to be seen, but there is little chance of a guy with the likes of Peter Bourjos or Daniel Descalso finding lightning in a bottle on offense and being able to sustain a good run. While the injury bug is affecting both pitching and offense, the simple fact is this: the more inconsistent the offense is, the more of a strain is placed on the pitching staff. The arms that the Redbirds have may be aplenty, but they do not have a never-ending supply of Major League-ready pitchers.

One last thing of note, and it's not exactly baseball-related.

Those who've been a part of the community the last few years have known that the red baron was occasionally putting together music playlists for his blog posts. They were something that I enjoyed, something that I felt added an interesting twist to a standard baseball-related blog post. RB has graciously given me permission to include a playlist with my own posts. Here is the playlist for your Friday...

Zoom Zoom's playlist for June 27, 2014

"Michigan" - The Milk Carton Kids

"Black Like Me" - Spoon

"Bullet" - Franz Ferdinand

"Burning in the Sun" - Blue Merle

"Hajimemashite" - Umphrey's McGee

"Old Enough" - The Raconteurs

'Til next time...