One of the fastest starts in St. Louis Cardinals franchise history continues, as the Cardinals picked up 9 victories in a recent 11-game homestand to jump ahead 6.5 games of the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Standings.
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Between strong pitching and timely hitting, the St. Louis Cardinals have been able to create several memories just over a month into the season. But behind each story lies the facts, so a look behind the numbers 1-10 in descending order may further help demonstrate the team’s early dominance in 2015.
10 Trevor Rosenthal saves
After entering Thursday’s game with a four-run lead and two RISP, Rosenthal recorded three quick outs to record his tenth save in 11 chances. His numbers heading into May look considerably better than last year, when he only sported a 4.73 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and only seven saves after the season’s first month.
9 bullpen wins
Even though a handful of St. Louis’s recent victories are a result of late-inning heroics, the bullpen has been a solid force behind winning game. From April 30 to May 5, relief pitchers picked up six consecutive wins for the Cardinals, featuring a pair each from newcomers Carlos Villanueva and Miguel Socolovich.
8 game-winning streak
From April 28 to May 5, the Cardinals were able to string together the third highest winning streak in Major League Baseball this year and top their best stretch from 2014. St. Louis scored at least 7 runs in half of the 8 victories, while pitchers chipped in with a combined 3.04 ERA.
7 Players hitting above .300 with runners in scoring position
After the Cardinals combined for a .254 RISP batting average and only a +11 run differential last season, delivering hits in key situations has once again became a strength for the Cardinals. The veterans have played an integral role in reviving this offense, as Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina have contributed with .550 and .391 RISP marks respectively. Pitchers John Lackey and Michael Wacha are both contributing with RISP batting averages over .300 as well.
6 Pinch-hit RBIs
Even though there some familiar faces returning dugout that has been exposed in recent years, pinch-hitting has improved this season. Mark Reynolds has been the go-to guy in several of these situations with half of St. Louis’s pinch-hit RBIs, but Kolten Wong is also making a difference when called upon from the bench with a pair of pinch-hits.
5 Matt Adams Game-winning RBIs
Although he ranks twelfth among all MLB first basemen in RBIs, Adams is tied for the second most game-winning RBIs among all MLB hitters. Nearly 1/3 of his RBIs are game-winners so far, including his third home run in the series finale with Philadelphia and a walk-off hit in May’s first game against Pittsburgh.
4 runners caught stealing from Molina
In a season that’s started statistically slow for the Cardinals’ backstop offensively, Molina has still been able to throw out runners behind the plate. His .364 caught-stealing percentage is slightly lower than it had been in past seasons, but the seven-time gold glover has proved more endurance with age, starting in 24 of St. Louis’s 28 games thus far.
3 walkoff victories
For those who paid close attention to last weekend’s series against Pittsburgh, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Cardinals swept the series with the help of extra inning efforts from Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong, which now gives them six walkoff victories in their last ten home contests against Pittsburgh.
2 Peter Bourjos triples
The need for speed has been growing in recent years and bench specialist Peter Bourjos has been one of the reasons why. The center fielder’s pair of triples have came against familiar foes Aaron Harang and Jake Arrieta. Running has remained a vital part of Bourjos’s arsenal, as the outfielder has collected 4 stolen bases and has shown great versatility with no errors in the outfield yet this season.
1 Player of the Week Award
During the second full week of Major League Baseball which spanned from April 13-19, Matt Carpenter became the first Cardinal infielder to win Player of the Week honors since Albert Pujols in 2011. During this timeframe, the third baseman six consecutive multi-hit efforts with 5 RBIs. Most importantly, Carpenter is sustaining success with 5 home runs, 20 RBIs and a .333 batting average, and could challenge for MVP if he continues to produce at a similar pace.
While this recent surge is an encouraging sign of postseason hopes early on, the Cardinals still have plenty of challenges and matchups ahead. St. Louis begins a six-game road trip on Friday consisting of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians.