Recent Complete Game Losses

You realize it’s been over 3 seasons since a Cardinal pitcher threw a complete game loss?

Last season St Louis threw seven complete games.  Things ain’t like they used to be.  Adam Wainwright threw five.  Shelby Miller and Jake Westbrook, of all people, tossed the other two.  All seven games were victories.  Which got me thinking – when was the last time a Cardinal went the route in a loss?

I did a search on Baseball Reference for complete game losses over the last 10 years.  For the purposes of this search, an 8-inning start on the road counts.  Found some old friends on the list.

  • The most recent complete game loss belongs to Chris Carpenter, who dropped a 3-1 decision to the Padres.  Carpenter appears three times on this list, being on the wrong end of the ledger once each in 2006 and 2004.
  • Wainwright appears here too.  No surprise there.  He has the next two most recent losses, although they occurred almost three years apart, in Apr 2010 to the Giants, and Aug 2007 to the Dodgers.
  • Remember Anthony Reyes?  He makes the cut twice.  The first was a 5-inning decision to the Mets and Hall of Famer-elect Tom Glavine.  Tom also got credit for a complete game.  The other is his epic 1-0 loss to the White Sox in 2006.  It was probably the second-best game he ever threw at the Major League level; the other being his 1-0 win in the World Series.  On this night, a Jim Thome HR in the seventh inning beat him.
  • Mark Mulder is currently attempting a comeback with the Anaheim Angels.  I wish him nothing but the best of luck.  He makes the list with a complete game loss to the Cubs during his last truly good season.
  • Jason Marquis later pitched in San Diego.  In 2005 he hooked up with Jake Peavy in a classic.  The Padres prevailed 2-1 on a walk-off single by Robert Fick.
  • Our last pitcher to go the route in a loss is Matt Morris. Matt dropped a 2-0 decision to the Giants in 2005, two years after losing a heartbreaker to Houston on a Jeff Kent walk-off HR in the last of the ninth.

The game scores are perhaps lower than one would expect for a complete game.  Carpenter’s 2006 loss earned a game score of 45.  It struck me as a little amazing he was allowed to throw into the ninth with a game score that low, but he’d only thrown 103 pitches to get through 7 2/3 before delivering the fateful 104th.  He’d eventually throw 106. And, he was up 5-4 when the eighth started.  It’s been so long that I don’t remember what the bullpen usage was going into that game.  St Louis led throughout.  The only time they trailed was after Lance Berkman‘s HR.

Overall the game scores for these losses averaged 63.5.  The mode for this set of game turned out to be 62.  Carpenter’s 45 was the low, Reyes’ 1-0 loss to Chicago was the high (82), tied with Carpenter’s 2004 loss to Cincinnati, where he struck out 11 Reds but was beaten by Sean Casey‘s solo shot.  By way of comparison, the lowest game score for a complete game win in 2013 was Jake Westbrook (76).

This was inspired by a recent Viva El Birdos post from Ben Humphrey.

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