photo: Paul Goldschmidt (Joe Puetz/USA TODAY Sports)
Brian Walton digs into games in St. Louis Cardinals history similar to Monday’s win, in which the only run scored on a bases-empty home run.
As often is the case it seems, discussion on the daily game thread at The Cardinal Nation’s free forum led to wondering how rare this kind of game has been. Several hours later, I escaped that rabbit hole, thanks to researcher Tom Orf, whose data pull answered most of these questions.
Q: How many solo home run 1-0 wins in Cardinals history have there been?
A: This has occurred 49 times.
Q: When was the first occasion?
The first was on September 30, 1914 at Pittsburgh. In the sixth inning, Dots Miller went deep to back winning pitcher Biil Doak.
Q: What was the most recent occurrence prior to Monday?
A: On September 3, 2019 at Busch against the Giants, Marcell Ozuna’s sixth inning homer behind Jack Flaherty’s pitching powered St. Louis’ win.
Q: In what season did the Cardinals have the most solo home run 1-0 wins?
A: In 2014, the Cardinals had a team record four, with two occurring during the same week. They were on March 31, June 10, June 13 and July 27. Home runs were hit by Yadier Molina, Matt Adams and Matt Holliday twice. Adam Wainwright was the winning pitcher in three of the four games, with all three of his 1-0 victories on the road. Lance Lynn was the other beneficiary.
Q: Did any of these 49 solo home runs come in the first inning?
A: Only twice previously was one of these shots hit in the first inning. Holliday did it in the top of the first against the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks on July 27, 2014. Wainwright was the winning pitcher. On August 24, 1928, Ernie Orsatti homered in the bottom of the first inning against the Phillies, backing future Hall of Famer Jesse “Pop” Haines.
Q: Which solo homer at-bat was earliest in the game?
Goldschmidt was the Cardinals’ second batter of the game, hitting in the bottom of the first.
Holliday was the Cardinals’ third batter of the game and batting in the top of the first, he was also the third batter of the game. Orsatti, like Goldschmidt, batted in the bottom of the first, but as the third batter in the St. Louis lineup.
Q: Did all 49 Cardinals starting pitchers in these games get the win?
No. Only 48 did. On August 7, 1996 at Busch, Todd Stottlemyre was taken out after throwing eight shutout innings against the Padres. With the game scoreless, Mark Petkovsek retired San Diego in the top of the ninth before Gary Gaetti’s walkoff solo shot gave the reliever the vulture win.
Q: Were any other of these 49 Cardinals victories decided on a walkoff?
A: While Gaetti’s feat was the only one to end a nine-inning game, two other Cardinals 1-0 contests concluded with a solo home run in extra innings. On July 4, 1980, George Hendrick ended a 0-0 game against the Phillies in the 10th inning. On April 30, 1950, the Cardinals and Cubs were scoreless until Del Rice went deep with the bases empty in the bottom of the 13th.
Q: Though no Cardinal has ever done it, how many MLB games with solo home run 1-0 outcomes were decided by his team’s first batter of the game?
A: According to Baseball Almanac, 28 times in MLB history, the game’s leadoff batter hit a home run in a contest that ended 1-0.
Q: Did an MLB leadoff man ever do this on the first pitch of the game?
A: Yes, on September 2, 1963, 22-year-old Pete Rose homered on the first pitch of the game as the Reds went on to beat the Mets 1-0.
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