Runs In Bunches

On Wednesday the Cardinals completed a 3-game series against Arizona in the desert. St Louis won 2 of the three games. That in and of itself is not remarkable; as mentioned last week, the Cardinals have had reasonable success in Tucson. What is unusual is how many runs the team scored in those three games.

To recap – St Louis won the opener 8-2 behind the resurgent Kyle Lohse, lost 8-13 behind surprisingly shaky Chris Carpenter, then bludgeoned their way to a 15-5 win in support of a grateful Jake Westbrook. Thirty-one runs in the series, with at least 8 runs in every game. Talk about runs in bunches. More perspective: they had scored only 27 runs total in their first nine games.

That many runs in a series has to be a rarity, right? How often have the Cardinals done that? Well, more often than I initially thought, but less often than one might expect.

Looking back over the past 50 seasons, the Cardinals have scored 8 or more runs in three consecutive games against the same opponent 17 times.

Season Dates Location Opponent Results Length of series
2011 4/11-13 Chase Field Diamondbacks WLW 3-game
2007 8/14-16 Miller Park Brewers WWW 3-game
2005 5/10-12 Busch II Dodgers WLW 4-game (won 1st game 4-2)
2003 6/3-5 Busch II Blue Jays WWW 3-game
2003 6/17-19 Miller Park Brewers WWW 3-game
2002 9/17-19 Coors Field Rockies WWW 3-game
2001 4/6-8 Bank One Ballpark Diamondbacks WWW 3-game
2001 6/15-17 Busch II White Sox WWW 3-game
2000 9/11-13 PNC Park Pirates WWW 3-game
1995 9/11-13 Busch II Giants WWW 3-game
1993 6/29-7/1 Busch II Phillies LWW 4-game (won 1st game 3-1)
1980 5/5-7 Busch II Giants WWW 3-game
1978 8/25-27 Fulton County Braves WWW 3-game
1977 4/7,9-10 Three Rivers Pirates WWW 3-game (off day 4/8)
1973 6/11-13 Riverfront Reds WWW 3-game
1963 8/16-17,19 Sportsman’s Park Giants WWW 3-game (off day 8/18)
1961 7/17-18 Sportsman’s Park Cubs WWW 4-game (won 1st game 7-5)

In 1961, two of the three games were played as part of a double-header (on 17 July 1961). The third game of that set was the first game of a double-header played the next day – yes, on July 17 and 18 the Cardinals and Cubs played back-to-back double headers.

Note that over half of these 3-game sets have happened in the last 10 years. If one needed more proof offensive production has taken off in the recent history of the game, here it is. Additionally the Cardinals have turned this trick before in Arizona, ten years ago to the week.

What is unique about the recently completed series is the Cardinals did not win all three games during this offensive explosion. While not a rarity if the series is scheduled for longer than 3 games, it is a rarity for a three game set. The data presented here only goes back to 1961, however, I searched on Baseball Reference to see if St Louis had ever played a 3-game series in which they scored 8 or more runs in all three games and failed to win all three games. Baseball Reference carries game results back to 1919, and I looked at 2300+ games.

Never before had the Cardinals scored 8 or more runs in a 3-game series and not swept until the recently completed Arizona series.

I counted 36 series where they had scored 8 or more runs in 3 consecutive games on consecutive days against the same opponent through the 1926 season, when I stopped writing them down. In each instance where they lost on of the 3 games the series was at least 4 games long (and in 2 instances, 5 games).

A footnote to history, to be sure. However as a wise man once said, the great thing about baseball is you might see something today you’ve never seen before. We did not know it at the time, but during this mid-week series we all saw the Cardinals do something they had never done before.

Mike Metzger blogs about the Cardinals at Stan Musial’s Stance.

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