The St. Louis Cardinals move into the final week of the 2007 season on their final road trip of the year, with three games in Milwaukee on Monday through Wednesday, a rain make-up date in New York on Thursday before closing out the season with three in Pittsburgh over the weekend.
Unless they put some "W's" on the board in a hurry, this group of Cards may end up as the worst away from home since Tony La Russa came to St. Louis.
The Cardinals’ road record is currently 30-44 (.405) and they are in the midst of a nine-game road losing streak. Their last win on the road was almost a month ago, on August 28 at Houston.
The Cards limped home after finishing 0-7 on their last road trip, a disastrous journey to Arizona, Chicago and Cincinnati that finished off with a resounding thud any chances of the defending world champions returning to the playoffs this season.
That September 7-13 trek represented the Cardinals’ first winless road swing of seven games or more in the last 35 years - since May 12-17, 1972 to be exact. In fact, with the two previous losses in Houston on August 28 and 29, it is just the third time in the last 50 years the Cardinals have endured a road losing streak of nine or more games.
This current run of nine straight road losses is the club’s longest since they fell 11 straight games from May 12-29, 1978. That mark would be surpassed with a Milwaukee sweep this week.
If that happened, along with a loss in New York on Thursday, the Cardinals would tie their longest road losing streak in the last 50 years. The mark currently in the books is a 13-game road winless streak that spanned two seasons, from September 13, 1959 to May 14, 1960.
Last season’s edition of the Cardinals had just a .420 regular-season road mark (34-47) but the previous two seasons, 2004 and 2005, were just the opposite. Those two clubs combined posted a tremendous .630 record (102-60) away from Busch Stadium.
The worst road results of any season during Tony La Russa’s reign as manager in St. Louis (1996 to present) were generated in 1999. That club, which was 73-89 overall, went just 32-49 (.395) away from home.
La Russa’s current team, hobbled by injuries and playing solely for pride at this point, is threatening that record for road futility. They will need at least three wins of the seven road games scheduled this week to avoid the distinction of becoming the worst road club in the La Russa era in St. Louis.
To do so, the unheralded players on the roster will need to step up over the next seven days. For example, in Sunday’s comeback home win against Houston, shortstop David Eckstein was the only member of the regular starting eight position players to be in the line-up.
It has been worse historically. Even if the 2007 team does not win another game, a 30-51 (.370) mark would not approach the poorest Cardinals road record ever. That occurred in 1908, also the last season the Cubs won the World Series. That Cards club went 21-56 (.273). The year prior to La Russa’s arrival, 1995, the Cardinals won only 23 away games (23-48, .324).
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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