Wacha like a man: Cardinals 9, Dodgers 0

Michael Wacha held L.A. to two hits over 7 innings, leading the Cards into the World Series with his second win of the NLCS and third in this postseason (totals 21 IP, one run, 8 hits, 4 walks, 21 strikeouts). St. Louis pitchers allowed just three baserunners, matching the fewest in a series clincher. (The Mets’ Bobby Jones one-hit the Giants in the his third win in the 2000 NLDS.) They faced 29 batters, one off the clincher record set by Atlanta in the 1996 NLCS, game 7.

 

Wacha is the third-youngest starter to win three games in one postseason, after Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Jaret Wright (1997), who each made five starts. Wacha could become the youngest with four wins in a postseason, and the 15th overall; none has won five.

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With Carlos Martinez (age 21) pitching the 8th and Trevor Rosenthal (23) the 9th, it’s the first time that three pitchers age 23 or younger appeared for one team in a series clincher. The 1979 Reds used three young pitchers (out of six) in losing the NLCS finale to Pittsburgh. Martinez and Rosenthal also pitched in Wacha’s other two starts, comprising three out of the seven postseason team-games with three age 23 or younger; no team has ever used more, and no other team has used three since the 1991 Braves.

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Two scoreless wins in one series, by a starter:

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Starters with at least three wins in a postseason that totaled one run or less:

  • Mathewson, 1905 (27 IP, no runs, 13 hits, one walk).
  • Kenny Rogers, 2006 (23 IP, no runs, 9 hits, 7 walks).
  • Michael Wacha, 2013 (21 IP, one run, 8 hits, 4 walks).

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Wacha’s three postseason wins match his regular-season total. I’ll guess that hasn’t been done before; anyone care to check?

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Before tonight, three of the four biggest shutouts in LCS finales went against the Cardinals:

  • 1996 NLCS, Braves 15, Cards 0: Atlanta wins game 7 at home behind Tom Glavine, knocking out Donovan Osborne with 6 in the 1st.
  • 2012 NLCS, Giants 9, Cards 0: S.F. wins game 7 at home behind Matt Cain, blitzing Kyle Lohse and Joe Kelly with 7 runs in the first 3 innings.
  • 1979 ALCS, Orioles 8, Angels 0: Baltimore wins in Anaheim, taking the series by 3-1 with a CG by Scott McGregor.
  • 2000 NLCS, Mets 7, Cards 0: N.Y. wins game 5 at home, 7-0, with a 3-hitter by Mike Hampton.

 


Comments

Wacha like a man: Cardinals 9, Dodgers 0 — 38 Comments

  1. JA:

    There are various metaphors to describe the following protest, such as spitting into the wind. However—

    To me the World Series is all that counts—or all that counts with regard to the season’s finale. Equating this ever expanding run of pre-WS games to those in the Fall Classic by lumping all post-season statistical results together, well—why not just add the regular season stats in, too, and trivialize the matter completely?

    • nsb, indeed, any discussion of “postseason stats” must deal with the opportunity advantage, especially for players in the wild-card era and players on dynastic teams.

      I hope no one thinks I meant to put the 3-scoreless-wins achievements of Michael Wacha and Kenny Rogers on the same level of Christy Mathewson’s 3 shutouts in one World Series. Wacha has started 3 of 11 team games so far, while Rogers started 3 of 13.

      On the other hand, I don’t think Matty’s feat of 3 shutouts in 6 days could be repeated in today’s game; conditions are just too different. So while he’s disadvantaged in the “postseason stats” pool by playing in the WS-only era, his particular era also gave him some advantage in amassing stats for a given year.

      I don’t agree with putting the WS on a completely separate plane from all other postseason feats. It’s now roughly twice as hard for a team to reach the WS as it was before expansion; today’s teams have to beat out 14 league-mates. If Carlos Beltran had played for the same caliber of teams in the pre-wild-card era, he probably would have been to the WS a couple of times by now. In that respect, extending the playoffs cuts both ways.

      I think LCS feats are pretty special.

      As for clinchers, clearly a game 6 at home, like Wacha’s, can’t be viewed the same as, say, John Smoltz’s road shutout in game 7 of the 1991 NLCS, and surely not on the level of the road shutouts in WS game 7’s by Koufax in ’65 (2-0) and Ralph Terry in ’62 (1-0). Still, for a 22-year-old rookie with 65 regular-season innings, matched against the game’s best pitcher, it’s a darn big accomplishment.

      Summing up, I think your critique is fair, but I will continue to reference the muddy “postseason stats” even while trying to provide a more nuanced view.

      • JA:

        I wasn’t attacking your post particularly, just making an across the board rant about what has quite recently become commonplace, but certainly wasn’t so as late as 1994, if the Thorn and Palmer TOTAL BASEBALL IV is anything to go by—and if my failing memory stills serves me, it was the go-to source at the time.

        In other words, at least up until the point at which a pre-playoff was inserted prior to the league playoff, owing to the split into three divisions, people generally did not intermix stats from the LCS with the WS.

        Look at it from the opposite perspective: what if the leagues had been divided into two 4 or 5 team divisions from 1901 onward. Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson would probably have made more of a post-season noise, as would Musial and Williams, even Ruth and Gehrig. The smaller number of teams per division inflates the opportunity to be in the post season, however you look at it, watering down the importance of the statistics. Thus, the big show ought to be kept separate. This is not to deny your arguments about Mathewson or Beltre, just a plea for keeping things in their proper perspectives re stats.

        • The split to 3 divisions was a result of the extra round of playoffs, not the cause. The big debate at the time was whether the Eastern division champion should play the #2 from the East or the West.

          (Also, the National League did not like playing a balanced schedule, so they wanted to shift from 2 divisions.)

      • Last time with 3+ starts in a World Series

        With 0 CG: 2011 – Chris Carpenter
        With 1 CG: 1991 – Jack Morris
        With 2 CG: 1975 – Luis Tiant
        With 3 CG: 1968 – Mickey Lolich, Bob Gibson

        Last time with 3+ starts in an LCS

        With 0 CG: 1992 – John Smoltz, Doug Drabek
        With 1 CG: 1988 – Orel Hershiser

      • “…today’s teams have to beat out 14 league-mates…”

        Before expansion, a team had to beat out (up to) 9 other teams to make the playoffs (WS).

        That’s 1 out of 10.
        Now, 5 out of 15 make it.
        That’s one out of three.

        What’s the harder route to the Series?
        Beating out nine other teams over 6 months?
        Or being in the top 33% and then winning 7 out of 12?

        • Voomo, I’m not following you.

          1) Before the first expansion, each league had 8 teams. To win the pennant and reach the WS, they had to beat out 7 teams. (The 10-team leagues only existed for 7 to 8 years, between the first and second expansions.)

          2) When talking about the path to the WS, the number of teams in the playoffs seems irrelevant. One team in each league reaches the WS, and 14 go home.

          “What’s the harder route to the Series?” can’t be answered in the abstract. What caliber of team are we talking about? If you could objectively define the “best” teams over the course of the regular season, then clearly the modern path is much harder for them. When the Cubs won 116 games in 1906, they went right to the World Series. When the Mariners won 116 games in 2001, they had to play two preliminary rounds, and lost in the second of those.

          Obviously, it’s easier now for a weaker team to reach the WS, like the 2006 Cardinals, 83-78 in the regular. But on balance, unless we’re specifying the caliber of team on which the effect is measured, the number of pre-WS rounds seems irrelevant to how difficult it is for a hypothetical team to reach the WS. Today’s teams have to best 14 others; pre-1916 teams had to best 7 others.

  2. In 1945 Virgil Trucks won 1 game in the WS and had none during the season. He joined the Tigers at the end of the season after being discharged from the armed services and pitched only 5 innings. He pitched a CG victory in game 2. As a returning serviceman he probably got special permission to appear in the WS.

    • Thanks, Richard!

      For starting pitchers with at least 3 wins in a postseason, the fewest career regular-season wins, to that point:

      — 4, Michael Wacha, 2013
      — 8, Jared Wright, 1997
      — 9, Livan Herandez, 1997
      — 12, Babe Adams, 1909
      — 15, Fernando Valenzuela, 1981

      (Not a scientific check. Corrections welcomed!)

      • Nobody will top Frankie Rodriguez with zero career wins before winning 5 in the 2002 post-season. Of course, all were in relief.

        A couple more.
        8 – Dave Righetti (1981)
        16 – Tim Belcher (1988)

    • Ken Brett in 1967 didn’t have more wins in the post-season than the regular season, but he did have more appearances and allowed more walks than in the regular season.

      But, Francisco Rodriguez is the real standout in this regard. Going into the 2002 post-season for the Angels, his career totals were a 0-0 record in 5 appearances and 5.2 IP, all in that season. In the post-season, he went 5-1 in 11 appearances and 18.2 IP.

  3. Tangent: After sampling a smattering of online comments from Cards fans, I want to believe that the whiny “why don’t we ever get any respect?” subset is merely the loudest, not the most representative.

    They sure are loud, though.

  4. Those same 3 under-23 Cardinal pitchers also were their only pitchers in game 4 of the NLDS, a higher pressure elimination game for the Cardinals.

    Those two games by the Cardinal trio are the only times that a team has used 3 pitchers aged 23 and under, and used no other pitchers in the game.

  5. No no no Dustin, that’s not how you do it!!! You put both hands up in the air and then tomahawk chop them down as you’re running towards first! Come on man, you’re a Red Sock!

  6. First and second, nobody out, down one run; now’s the time to step up and really earn that huge salary in a situation that actually counts Prince. You know, like you decidedly have not been doing up till now….

  7. As far as the Play Index can tell us, that’s the first postseason grand slam on an 0-2 count. There are 17 with unknown counts.

    I feel November’s breeze a-blowin’….

  8. Why is McCarver bloviating about pitch counts, as if he knew that was a reason that Leyland took out Scherzer? Max had a lot of stressful innings, the Monster saved him from a home run to start the inning, and he didn’t finish off Bogaerts from 1-2 (or so said the ump). Look at how the 5th, 6th and 7th had gone for Max. Ellsbury is 6 for 13 against him. I have no knock on pulling Scherzer there. The commentary seems like knee-jerk B.S.

  9. I’m spotting only two previous World Series that were contested between teams with identical regular season records: 1958 and 1949. Have I missed any? Cards and Red Sox had the top two regular season records in the majors this year, and b-ref’s Simple Rating System gave Boston the top rating and St Louis the second-best, tied with Detroit.

  10. If St. Louis wins it will be only the 2nd time that 4 WS winners went
    A
    B
    A
    B
    (Giants-Cards-Giants-Cards)

    The other was 1941-1944
    (Yankees-Cardinals)

  11. Faced with the awful prospect of no baseball for a few days I am compensated by watching an entire play-by-play account of game 6 of the 1952 World Series between the Yankees and the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. I believe this is the oldest available such game. The nostalgic person that I am gives me a great feeling to watch this game.
    And what fantastic memories there are: starting pitchers doing their pre-game warm-ups in foul territory near home plate, organist Gladys Gooding singing the national anthem live, men in the stands wearing suits and ties, Mel Allen and Red Barber behind the mike, the home plate umpire wearing the balloon chest protector, pitchers taking a full windup on every pitch, batters almost never stepping out of the box between pitches, seeing Mickey Mantle and John Mize at opposite ends of their careers, Gil McDougald’s odd stance, etc., etc.

    I think it’s worth watching. See the link below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iN2VxjMMwf4

    • RC:

      I didn’t watch the video of the game, but I took a long look at the box score, and it is fascinating for many reasons. In no particular order: Billy Cox (!) was leading off for the Dodgers as he did in 65 regular season games. Jackie R was batting clean-up. George Shuba, having his one shining season as a sometimes starter, was in left field giving Any Pafko a day off. This was the notorious 0-21 Gil Hodges WS. Hank Bauer was almost as bad, 1-18, for the Yankees. Duke Snider hit two solo HRs in the game, and they were the Dodgers’ only scores. Mantle’s HR in the 8th gave the Yankees the lead, which Allie Reynolds saved in the ninth, relieving for Vic Raschi. Mantle’s HR in the sixth the following day gave the Yankees the lead in a 4-2 victory to win the series. Reynolds finished the series with 2 wins, a loss, and a save following a brilliant regular season, 20-8 in 29 starts and six saves in six relief appearances, plus leading the league by a wide margin in ERA at 2.06. His season performance is forgotten now, overshadowed by Bobby Shantz’s great career year. Preacher Roe relieved for the Dodgers in this game, and also pitched a complete game victory in game 3. Billies Loes started for the Dodgers and took the loss. Joe Black didn’t appear. In fact, although he was the relief ace for the team during the season, he started 3 games in the Series, relieved in none, finishing 1-2.

      Dodger manager Chuck Dressen was obviously doing some weird stuff.

      • Nice summary, nsb. You know what else was weird in that box score? The attendance for this game, which could have clinched their first-ever WS title, was just over 30,000. They had 4,800 more in game 1, and about 3,200 more for game 7. They had 3 regular-season gates at least 1,000 bigger than game 6. Anyone?

        • If you watch the video, early in the game the camera panned the upper deck in left field to reveal quite a few empty seats. Mel Allen explained that those seats were withheld from advance sales so that there would be tickets available on the day of the game. Unfortunately almost everyone assumed that the game was already a sell-out so those seats remained unsold. Allen even asked watchers who were living in the vicinity of Ebbets Field to come to the park.

      • Talking about some weird stuff by Dressen, in the bottom of the 7th with 2 out and no one on and the Yankees ahead 2-1, he let Loes bat for himself. Lose then hits a single. With the count 3-1 on Cox, Loes thought the count was 3-2 and takes off with the pitch. The pitch was a strike and Loes ends up stealing second base. Then Cox struck out.

        Other signs of the times. Hand signals were used to contact the bullpen, batters rubbed dirt onto their hands, swung 2 bats while limbering up for their at bats and had no helmets or other batting protection.

        • According to PI that SB by Loes was the last one by a pitcher in a WS. There was one other one, by Bill Donovan in the 1908 WS.

    • Thank you, Richard. I’ve been dodging HHS for a couple of days, since the outcomes of the pennant races were not happy ones for me, but this is very nice to encounter on my return. Since my WS viewing didn’t begin till ’54, this will allow me to spend a couple of hours sharing the dismay that my older family members were used to feeling, most having rooted for the Dodgers in ’41, ’47, ’49, ’52, and ’53 (not to mention the razor-sharp pennant losses in ’42, ’46, ’50, and – oh! – ’51). All of which history had been well drummed into my head by ’55, and perhaps I thought my fan-ship had turned the tide – only to get a full dose of losing in ’56, followed by the ultimate loss in the wake of the ’57 season.

      If I recall, you’ve been following Series wins as a Yankee fan since ’47. But this is a very nice YouTube link, and I forgive you.

      • You’re welcome epm, glad you liked it. You would like the 5th game of that WS even more. The Dodgers won 6-5 in 11 innings with Carl Erskine going all the way. He gave up 5 runs in the 5th inning but Dressen let him remain in the game. Oisk retired the last 19 batters that he faced. One of those outs was a brilliant catch by Carl Furillo in the bottom of the 11th to rob John Mize of a game-tying homer. It was the second time in that game that Mize was robbed as Andy Pafko caught another potential homer of his earlier in the game. Mize did manage to hit one ball into the stands.

        Here’s a link to a 5 minute clip of that game:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JG6mTYhFsQ

  12. Bill James has a nice summary of the ’52 Series in the Historical Abstract, including Brooklyn’s two HR-saving catches in game 5. It’s in the section on The 1950s, essay titled “The Best World Series of the 1950s,” starting on page 241 in my edition.

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