Marquee Matchup – Cardinals vs. Cubs

The Brewers have come back to the pack in the NL Central and everyone is in the race now. Especially these longtime rivals and pre-season favorites for contesting the division title. More after the jump.

The Cubs are returning home licking their wounds after a disastrous 0-6 west coast road trip in which they scored a grand total of 9 runs. The Cardinals took their last two, splitting a home set with the Dodgers, but had been 3-10 before that so were hopeful of turning things around by extending their modest winning streak. This is the Cardinals` first trip to Chicago this season, after splitting 6 earlier games against the Cubs in St. Louis.

Game 1 was an afternoon affair with Lance Lynn going for St. Louis and John Lackey on the hill for the Cubs. Dexter Fowler greeted his former teammates with a home run on Lackey’s first offering of the game, and the Cards added a second run the next inning on an RBI single by rookie outfielder Magneuris Sierra. But, the Cubs answered with a Kris Bryant home run in the third and a Jason Heyward RBI double in the 6th to square the match at deuces. On to the 8th with Anthony Rizzo greeting Trevor Rosenthal with a leadoff double. The next batter grounded to third but Rizzo successfully executed a daring bit of baserunning by taking third base on the third baseman’s throw to first, allowing Heyward to deliver his second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly. Chicago closer Wade Davis then set the Cardinals down in order in the 9th to collect his 11th save. Final score: Cubs 3, Cardinals 2

So, how unusual is taking 3rd base on a throw across the diamond by the third baseman? So far this year, there have been 28 groundouts to the 3rd baseman with only a runner at second and nobody out, and Rizzo is the first runner to take third base on the throw. Five runners took 3rd base on the ball in play (four of those on weak contact, on a “swinging bunt” type of play), but every other runner stayed put, even though the potential out would be the second of the inning that is supposed to be worth risking in order to reach 3rd base. Similar story in 2016, when it happened only once (by Jose Bautista) in 108 such plays. But, kudos to Rizzo for pulling off an unconventional baserunning gambit and scoring the game winning run as a result.

Jason Heyward`s two RBI game netted a 0.294 WPA score, hardly a world-beating total, but his best of the season, and third best as a Cub. Heyward`s double was just his third of the season in his 40th game; since George Maisel recorded 7 doubles in 431 PA in 1921, the fewest two-baggers by a Cub outfielder in a full-length qualified season is 12 by Peanuts Lowrey in 477 PA in 1948.

Game 2 was another day game, this time matching Cub southpaw Jon Lester with Cardinal righty Mike Leake. As they did the day before, St. Louis took the early lead with the first four batters of the game reaching base and two of them scoring. Chicago got one of those back with a Javier Baez home run in the 3rd, but Yadier Molina returned the favor with his own solo shot in the 6th. The pivotal inning would be the 7th with Leake still on the mound for St. Louis and apparently in command, having thrown just 77 pitches through six innings. Chicago put runners on the corners with one out and Baez at the plate, but Leake struck him out on three pitches. The pitcher`s spot was up next, so Joe Maddon called on Jon Jay, who loaded the bases by getting plunked on a 1-2 pitch. Kyle Schwarber didn’t leave them loaded for long, going deep on Leake’s first offering and turning a two run deficit into a two run advantage. The Chicago bullpen took it the rest of the way, with Davis collecting save no. 12. Final score: Cubs 5, Cardinals 3

Easy to second guess, but the Schwarber PA, or the preceding one by John  Jay, sure seem like spots for your lefty specialist, and the Cardinals have a couple of them in veterans Kevin Siegrist and Brett Cecil. Problem is that both have had trouble finding the strike zone this season, at 5.9 and 4.5 BB/9 respectively, so one can understand Matheny`s reluctance to go that route with the bases loaded (though Cecil had been much better recently, with only two hits and no runs or walks allowed in his last 5 appearances). Schwarber doesn`t hit lefties at all so, even though he`s batting only .165 this season, I have to go to a lefty in that spot and force Maddon to make the move to his second best pinch-hitter. Leake was just shy of 100 pitches and had already thrown 20 in the inning, so just seems like asking for trouble to leave him in to face a second lefty bat, especially one with Schwarber`s power.

Chicago went for the sweep in Game 3, the Sunday night tilt with Kyle Hendricks going for the Cubs against Michael Wacha for St. Louis. Neither starter would be long for this game, after both struggled through rocky 4th innings. Hendricks labored through 46 pitches and was fortunate to allow just 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, the big blow a 3-run blast by Stephen Piscotty. In the bottom of the inning, the Cubs took Wacha to the woodshed, scoring 5 times on 3 hits, 2 walks and an error, with rookie Ian Happ delivering a 3-run shot, his second long ball in as many innings. St. Louis tied the game with a pair in the 6th, but Chicago retook the lead in the 7th on a two out, pinch RBI single by John Jay. The Chicago bullpen was again lights out, retiring the last 6 Cardinals in order, with the save this night going to Koji Uehara. Final score: Cubs 7, Cardinals 6

Jon Jay is batting .450 as a pinch-hitter this season; that`s the best searchable BA by a Cub in 20+ pinch-hit ABs over his team`s first 55 games. Ian Happ`s two HR game makes him just the second searchable Cub center-fielder to do so in his first 20 career games; you have to go back quite a way to find the first, 92 years to be precise, when Mandy Brooks recorded a pair of such games in 1925.  Still just 25, Michael Wacha is struggling to find the form that saw him win his first 3 post-season starts and claim the NLCS MVP award as a rookie in 2013. Through age 23, Wacha was 26-14 with a 3.21 ERA, but just 9-10, 4.97 since.

St. Louis probably deserved a better fate than to be swept in this series, but that`s the way it goes when you`re on a slide, as the Cardinals most definitely are, now with a 5-13 record since May 16th. For Chicago, it was a nice bounce-back following a forgettable road swing. After posting a losing record in their first two homestands, the Cubs have won 10 of their last 12 home games, with a chance to make more hay with the Marlins following the Cards into Wrigley.

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no statistician but
Guest

By beating the Marlins last night the Cubs are back in a tie for the Central Division lead despite the 6-game losing streak. The question is not whether they’ll duplicate last year’s runaway but whether they can stabilize and play consistently. Starting pitching is obviously the area least like last year’s, when the staff was sporting an ERA+ of around 130 at this time, but the hitting is off, too, especially by Zobrist and Rizzo. Is age a factor? Zobrist is 36, Lester 33, Lackey 38, Arrietta 31.

David P
Guest

Not sure I’d call it an age thing. Almost the entire starting lineup is age 27 or younger and many of them are having off years as well. Despite little turnover they’ve gone from a 106 OPS+ to 93. And the fielding, while still above average, doesn’t appear as good as last year when they were considered to have one of the best fielding seasons ever. And the one under-30 starter (Kyle Hendricks) has also been a lot worse than 2016.

oneblankspace
Guest

And then on Tuesday, the Cardinals gave up 4 HR to Scooter Gennett in Cincinnati.

Kerry W
Guest
Regarding that, he was the 15th person to hit 4 HR in a game, the first since Josh Hamilton on May 8, 2012, against the Orioles. Some of those 15 had some unique aspects: 1. Scooter Gennett had the least number of career HR before doing it (38). 2. Carlos Delgado (September 25, 2003, against the Devil Rays) was the only one who did it with only 4 PA in the game (all the others have 5 or more PA). 3. Shawn Green (May 23rd, 2002, against the Brewers) was the only one to do it who had more than… Read more »
oneblankspace
Guest

Whiten was the only other one with 10+ RBI, which means no one has homered for the cycle. Gehrig hit his 4 homeruns in a game where teammate Tony Lazzeri hit for the cycle… and they stilll didn’t make the front page in the New York sports papers because John McGraw resigned as manager of the Giants that same day.

Richard Chester
Guest

Willie Mays and Pat Seerey are the only players with at least 2 games with 15+ total bases. They each did it twice.

Doug
Guest

I doubt Gennett has a serious shot at not hitting 13 more HR in his career (although I likely would have said the same about Horner, who was just 28 when he had his four-HR game). What Gennett may have a shot at is never hitting 20 HR in a season, which all of the others did.

This was also Gennett’s first game with double-digit total bases, and just his second multi-HR game. With his four homers, Gennett moved past the total career home runs of the the other three Scooters in majors history – Gennett 42, Rizzuto/Tucker/Koshorek 39

no statistician but
Guest

Three all-time greats—Gehrig, Mays, Schmidt—plus Klein, a large hall HOFer.

Four notable sluggers—Cameron, Hodges, Colavito, and Delgado—with career WAR in the mid-40s.

Green (34.5) WAR, who broke the record for total bases set by Adcock (33.5 WAR) 58 years earlier.

Hamilton and Horner, truncated careers.

Whiten, a dark horse.

Seerey, a joke in his own time—whose DNA may have been tapped to make Adam Dunn, also a joke in his own time. (Sarcasm alert.)

Gennett, compared to Seery a heck of a ballplayer.

Does anyone else detect a certain randomness to the cosmic selection of the four-in-one-game man?

David P
Guest

Definitely random though I think that’s the first time Cameron’s been referred to as a “notable slugger”. Season high of 30 home runs, never finished in the top 10 in HRs. Just curious,,,,were you thinking of someone else?

no statistician but
Guest

Nope. I guess it’s just that I come from an era in which a player who bangs more than 20 HRs eight times in a career qualifies as a slugger. Of the four players in the group he has the highest WAR total, by the way, though the lowest oWAR. Delgado, more or less his contemporary, had the highest oWAR and the lowest total WAR. “Notable” is a vague term, no doubt.

David P
Guest
I’m sure we’ll have to agree to disagree but I don’t see it. Players need to be compared to their contemporaries and in that regard Cameron falls short. He has no top 10 finishes in Home Runs, Doubles, Extra Base Hits, or RBIs. (he does have a 5th and a 9th place finish in triples). Cameron’s career high in homeruns is 30. Delagado (his contemporary in your grouping) has 11 seasons of 30 or more homeruns. And even if we do compare him to the players from earlier eras Cameron falls short. Hodges has 6 seasons of 30+ home runs,… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Re: Pat Seerey, he recorded 4 seasons with a BA under .240 and 90+ strikeouts. No other pre-expansion live ball era hitter had more than one such campaign. The first expansion era player with 4 such seasons was Dave Kingman who reached 4 seasons in 1975 en route to 10 for his career, three more than Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds in second place. Of the 24 players who currently have 4 such seasons for their careers, 20 of them had all of those seasons since 1980.

alz9794
Guest

You are missing two people – Bobby Lowe and Ed Delahanty. These two games are from the 19th century, which I think predates the baseball-reference searchable box scores.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/feats/feats4.shtml

Lowe appears to have been the lead-off man in the 1894 game and he was playing 2B. Lowe had 42 HRs at the end of 1894, so he had, at most, 38 career HRs when he had his 4-HR game. It’s very likely he had less than 38 career HRs as his 4-HR game was on May 30th.

Kerry W
Guest

You’re right, I was just using bb-ref game stats, which only go back to 1913. I’m a little surprised that there would be a 4-HR game before then since a 20-HR season was rare. Good catch.

e pluribus munu
Guest

My thought about Lowe has been that his HRs were surely inside-the-park jobs, at least in part, given his era, batting history, and now seeing his batting slot. I was going to write that, but since Google always makes me smarter, I asked it to confirm my insight and it told me I was stupid: all Lowe’s shots went over the left field fence.

Richard Chester
Guest

Lowe hit all 4 of his homers against one pitcher, Ice Box Chamberlain, and Delahanty hit all 4 of his against Adonis Terry. No other player hit all 4 off one pitcher. This stands in contradiction of a recent tweet of mine on Twitter in which I stated that Lowe was the only player to do so.

Also BR’s HR log for Delahanty indicates 2 IPHR for him in that game.

Richard Chester
Guest

And BR’s HR log for Lowe indicates no IPHR for him.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Who’d have thought that it was the slugger who had two inside-the-park homers and the banjo hitter who put on the greatest one-day slugging display in baseball’s first 60 years?

Doug
Guest
Lowe’s four HR day came two weeks after Boston’s home ballpark (South End Grounds) burned down, with the fire consuming 177 other buildings in the vicinity. A new ballpark on the same site was in operation two months later. So, Lowe’s four home runs came while Boston was playing at Congress Street Grounds, as did 8 more of his home runs in that two month span. So, I’m guessing Congress Street Grounds may have been a pretty cozy venue (12 home runs there, only 5 others the rest of the season). Other than those 12 dingers at Congress Street, 45… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
From the SABR article I linked to above: The fences at Congress Street Grounds were generally much closer than at South End Grounds. Those on the scene, however, saw it differently. “His home runs were on line drives far over the fence, and would be good for four bases on an open prairie,” wrote the Boston Globe’s Tim Murnane in his account of the game the following day. A note indicates that the dimensions down the left field line were identical for the two parks, at 250′, though center was closer at the Congress St. Grounds (still 400′, though, in… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

6/6/1894 27-11 loss. Nice
Wasn’t the mound moved back to 60’6″ in 1894 and, hence, all this newfound offense? Baseball sure has had its “eras”….deadball, liveball, segregation, expansion era, the 60’s with the expanded strike zone, steroid era, etc. And, how were they all demarcated? Basically, by a ridiculously obvious change in runs scored.

Paul E
Guest

“It was actually in 1893″
1892 5.1 Runs/game/team
1893 6.6 ” ” ”
1894 7.38 ” “‘ ”

Yes, that is close to a 30% increase in scoring followed by another 12%….better than steroids !

David P
Guest
Yesterday the A’s and the Rays played a double header that was scheduled before the start of the season. it’s believed to be only the 4th such doubleheader this century, with the A’s being involved in 3 of them. Here’s the list of the other ones: *Oakland at Minnesota (May 26, 2001) *San Diego at Philadelphia (August 2, 2003) *Los Angeles Angles at Oakland (July 16, 2011) Some of the players comments on playing a pre-scheduled doubleheader would make many an old-timer turn over in their graves: “It’s the dumbest thing I ever heard of in my life,” (Logan Morrison)… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

I’d bet that more than 75% of the games I saw in the late-50s and early 60s were doubleheaders. Theoretically, I miss them — to me those mornings promised to be the starts of the best days in world history. But now, in the 2010s, I know I’d never be able to sit for that long, especially since a traditional double header often used to involve only about 5 hours at the park total, including the break, while now I suppose you’re in for about a 7 hour siege.

Thanks to Doug for another post treat!

Richard Chester
Guest

The 1945 Senators played 44 doubleheaders (but it was partially due to wartime travel restrictions). Regardless, there were tons of doubleheaders in the past.

oneblankspace
Guest

The two (single-admission) doubleheaders I attended in person in 1985 and 1987 were not scheduled ahead of time. One was a makeup from the 1985 players’ strike, the other was a makeup of a rainout and featured its own rain delay.

oneblankspace
Guest

The Padres used to have a disproportionate amount of doubleheaders late in the season when they played in Jack Murphy Stadium. It was the only shared stadium where the NFL team had preference in case of a conflict. So they had doubleheaders on Saturday with Sunday off.

Doug
Guest
I attended a double-header in Montreal late in the 1985 season after a fierce thunderstorm the previous evening led to flash flooding. In the second inning of the first game, Montreal stole two bases on Cardinal catcher Darrell Porter, who threw the ball into center-field on one of the steal attempts. After the inning, Porter got into a heated exchange in the dugout with Whitey Herzog, and had to be restrained by his teammates. Herzog “rewarded” Porter by having him catch both games; Porter responded with a couple of hits in the second game, scoring twice, and driving in the… Read more »
Daniel Longmire
Guest
Continuing the (not-so) early season discussion, Noah Syndergaard and Roberto Osuna currently have K/BB ratios greater than 12, although Thor is currently on the DL. Only 14 other players have managed this over a season with 15 or more innings pitched, and some interesting names and situations pop up. These include the first Japanese player in MLB history (Masanori Murakami), the stellar back-to-back 1989-90 seasons by Dennis Eckersley, equally impressive years from Mo Rivera and Andrew Miller, Stephen Strasburg’s truncated sophomore year, and Clayton Kershaw’s what-could-have-been partial season from last year. Kershaw’s innings total (149.7) far exceeds anyone else on… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
The Yankees just finished off the Orioles 14-3, after beating them 16-3 yesterday and 8-2 on Friday. In their 2 previous contests the topped the Red Sox 8-0 and 9-1 for a five game streak in which they scored 55 runs to their opponents’ nine. I can’t remember when a second-short duo were batting .325 and .327, but that’s where Castro and Gregorius are after today’s game. Judge, who homered twice today, is now at .344 and Hicks at .317. Sanchez’s slow start is a thing of the past, at least for now, and he’s on a pace fairly similar… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Now all they have to do is find a way to unload Ellsbury. And don’t sign a DH next year, leaving four spots open for the 5 outfielders (Gardner, Hicks, Judge, Frazier, Fowler) How about Phoenix? Ellsbury is Navajo, and runs a youth camp in Arizona. The D-Backs gave an extended contract to the 30-HR bat (and not much else yet) of Yasmany Tomas. Maybe Ells waives his no-trade and ‘Zona goes for it. Then, flip Tomas to the White Sox, who have Abreu and now Luis Robert. Another Cuban may appeal. They’ve got Melky in the last year of… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

A few weeks ago Devon Travis was on pace for 60+ doubles with an OBP under .300.
He’s gotten hurt, which will slow his roll.

But Odubel Herrera has taken up the cause.
Current pace:

63 dubs
.295 OBP
__________

He has 11 doubles in 9 games in the month of June

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

Meh. Don’t start with Odúbel’s “pace.”

Through 60 games last season: 39 walks (a 105-walk pace) and an OBP of .420.
The rest of the season (99 games played), Herrera drew 24 walks and had a .323 OBP.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Austin Bibens-Dirkx just beat Max and the Nationals, one of the 6 (MLB) organizations he’s been with in his 12 year pro career.
After a coupla first inning hits he retired 19 straight.

He’s a 32 year old rookie
Here’s his numbers:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=bibens001aus

no statistician but
Guest

Are you sure he isn’t a cricketer? How many other ballplayers, big league or minors, have had hyphenated last names? Well, there’s Clive Cholmondeley-Smythe, and “Rafe” Berkshire-Hathaway . . ..

Richard Chester
Guest

Well, as long as you asked there has been one other hyphenated surname in the ML, Ryan Rowland-Smith, who pitched from 2007-2014.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Also, Bucky F’ing-Dent

no statistician but
Guest

Rowland-Smith is an Australian, so he passes the test. Don’t ask me what test.

Doug
Guest
In Saturday’s Blue Jays-Mariners game, Jose Bautista pulled off a play I hadn’t seen before in a major league game. With the bases empty, Bautista drew a walk and, upon reaching first base, kept right on going to take second uncontested. Both middle infielders were far off the second base bag with their head down and/or back turned. The pitcher was holding the ball behind the mound, head down and back to home plate. The PBP says that Bautista advanced to second on a throw but, in fact, there was never a throw as Bautista was jogging towards an unguarded… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest

Doug:

I’m sure it’s been done before—sounds like a Jackie Robinson or Rickey Henderson type of heads up play. I’d like to swear I’ve even seen it, but maybe only back in my ancient league playing days.

Bautista deserves a gold star anyway, since they didn’t see fit to give him a stolen base.

Doug
Guest

I suppose the throw that Bautista advanced on was the one from the catcher back to the pitcher.

Richard Chester
Guest

I have never seen or heard of a play like that but I do remember reading in the Charlton Chronology that Ty Cobb once strolled home from third while the opposing catcher and other fielders were arguing a play at home on the prior base runner.

e pluribus munu
Guest
In The Glory of Their Times Sam Crawford talks about how he and Cobb would pull off a similar play when Cobb was on third and Crawford drew a walk. Cobb would make “a slight move” to signal, and Crawford would trot two-thirds of the way to first and then break into a sprint around the bag and towards second as Cobb broke for home: “Sometimes they’d catch him, and sometimes they’d catch me, and sometimes they wouldn’t get either of us. But most of the time they were too paralyzed to do anything and I’d wind up on second… Read more »
David P
Guest

Here’s a video off Marco Scutaro doing the same:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vlemZpFOwM

And Scutaro was credited with a stolen base on the play, perhaps because the pitcher did throw to second.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI200906180.shtml

And here’s a video of Daniel Murphy going from 1st to 3rd on a walk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeS6jy7wRKc

Daniel Longmire
Guest

That play by Murphy broke the Dodgers’ spirit, much like the home run by Matt Adams off Kershaw in the 2014 NLDS. Perhaps this year will be different?

oneblankspace
Guest

I have seen plays where the runner on second who was not forced stole third on ball 4.

Ken
Guest

I was looking at Phil Rizzuto’s career splits, noticed his 1st and 2nd half PA are very close, 3357 vs 3362. I didn’t see an easy way in Play Index to check for other players that are close in this category. The All Star break is the criteria BB Ref uses for the halves since 1933, don’t know what they use before that.

Richard Chester
Guest

Here’s what you can do.
Go to the Player Batting Split Finder
Select career stats
For Split type choose first or second half.
For Choose a split choose either first half or second half.
For Total Criteria choose PA >= 5000 (or whatever PA you choose to select)
Sort by PA
Select % difference between total and split.
Click on Get Results.
Then scroll down several pages until you come to a % reading of 50.0, which is a rounded off number. Those are the players you are looking for. There are 5 players at 50.0%, Rizzuto, Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Henrich, Jack Fournier and lance Johnson.

Ken
Guest

Thanks Richard!

Ken
Guest

If the Nationals hadn’t blown the lead in the 9th inning last night, Stephen Strasburg would have gotten the win with a Game Score of 28. A pitcher has gotten a win with a GS of that low only twice this season. Strasburg’s lowest GS with a win in his career is 41, which seems high. For Kershaw it’s 28, for Scherzer 29, for Sale 32. It was 38 for Pedro.

Here is list of number of games by season of pitcher wins with a GS of 28 or less.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/share.fcgi?id=0J8Bi

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Also rare is striking out 10, and giving up 6 ER, and doing do in no more than 100 pitches.

Only the 11th time, searchable. Not sure how far back the data goes, but the first listed instance of it was 1963.
The other 10 have all been since 1998.

That ’63 effort was Double D:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/LAN/LAN196307280.shtml

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

Yesterday Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario homered three times in a 20-7 win over the Mariners. It’s only the fifth time in the searchable era that a player has homered three times in a game when batting ninth in the order. The previous four: Jim Tobin (pitcher), Braves, May 13, 1942; Art Shamsky (pinch-hitter/left fielder), Reds, August 12, 1966 (13-inning game); Dale Sveum (second baseman), Brewers, July 17, 1987; Trot Nixon (right fielder), Red Sox, July 24, 1999.

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