In face of injuries, Cardinals persevere
With the season reaching the midway point this weekend, the Cardinals find themselves not only sitting atop the National League Central, six games in front of the second-place Pirates, but they're the only big league team on pace to win 100 games.
The Cardinals have faced plenty of challenges, and so far, they have handled them well.
Adam Wainwright, the Opening Night starter who beat the Cubs, underwent left Achilles tendon surgery in late April and is likely lost for the season.
Matt Holliday, the No. 3 hitter in the lineup, has been out for four weeks with a strained right quadriceps, and he only began light jogging and batting practice this week.
First baseman Matt Adams underwent May 29 surgery for a torn right quadriceps, and he's on the 60-day disabled list, along with right-handed setup reliever Jordan Walden, who has been out with right biceps inflammation since April 30.
And in the past week, reliever Matt Belisle (right elbow inflammation) and center fielder Jon Jay (left wrist stress reaction) were added to the disabled list. Jay's injury is a residual of a left wrist injury that sidelined him for 19 days in May.
But the record, however, says it all about the Cardinals' ability to focus on the job at hand and not wallow in self-pity. While it went into Saturday looking to snap a four-game losing streak, St. Louis is 51-28, which is on pace for 104.5 victories.
It's more difficult to win 100 games than it is to lose 100 games. Since 1901, when the NL and American League joined to create Major League Baseball, there have been 142 teams that have lost 100 or more games in a season compared to 94 teams who've won 100 or more games.
The Mariners tied the Cubs for the Major League single-season record with 116 victories in 2001, but their .716 winning percentage (116-46) is fifth best in history. The 1906 Cubs (116-36, .763) have the best winning percentage followed by the 1902 Pirates (103-36, .741), the 1909 Bucs (110-42, .724) and the 1954 Indians (111-43, .721).
The Cardinals have had eight 100-win seasons, the most of any NL team, but they're third in the Majors behind the Yankees (19) and the A's (10). The Rockies, Padres, Brewers, Nationals, Rangers and Blue Jays have never won 100 games in a season.
The Mets set the record for most losses with a 40-120 record in their inaugural season of 1962. The Tigers went 43-119 in 2001. The A's have had 16 seasons of 100 or more losses. The Phillies did it 14 times, the Braves 13 and the Orioles 11. The Rockies and Angels are the only franchises to not lose 100 games in a season, and the Cardinals (1907 and 1908) and Yankees (1908 and 1912) have lost 100 games twice.
The Phillies went into Saturday's action on pace to lose 108 games.
First things first
Manny Banuelos made his big league debut Thursday, the eighth pitcher to make his debut for the Braves this season. He started and pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Nationals and wound up with a no-decision.
Other mound debuts for the Braves include Matt Wisler, Williams Perez, Jake Brigham, Sugar Ray Marimon, Brandon Cunniff, Ryan Kelly, Cody Martin and John Cornely.
Wisler earned the victory in his June 19 debut, working eight innings in a 1-0 victory against the Mets. Perez was 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA before being placed on the disabled list with a bruised left foot. Brigham spent nine years in the Minors before making a relief appearance Tuesday.
Kelly also debuted on Tuesday, and he was sent back to Triple-A Gwinnett after giving up one run on two hits in the ninth inning of the game against the Nationals. Martin and Cornely have since been traded. Martin went to the A's on Thursday for international bonus pool slot No. 53, and Cornely was dealt to the Red Sox for cash considerations.
• Saturday was the 76th anniversary of the Yankees retiring No. 4 in honor of Lou Gehrig, who gave his "Luckiest Man" speech.
• Sunday is the 24th anniversary of the Rockies and Marlins officially joining the NL in 1991.
• Wednesday will be the 82nd anniversary of the first All-Star Game, when Babe Ruth hit a two-run home run and the AL beat the NL, 4-2.
• Thursday will be the 10th anniversary of the first 1-0 game at Coors Field. The Rockies had to get out of a bases-loaded situation in the ninth to beat the Padres. Coors Field had gone 874 games without a 1-0 decision, the longest drought in Major League history.
• The Cubs swept their seven-game season series from the Mets, only the fourth season series sweep of six or more games against the same team by the Cubs in their history. The Cubs were 6-0 against the Braves in 2008. They also went 10-0 against the Reds in 1876, and 16-0 against the 1885 Buffalo Bisons.
• Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has hit safely in 32 consecutive road games against the Mets, the longest active streak in the big leagues, according to Elias. He hit safely in his final 10 games at Shea Stadium and has hit safely in all 22 games he has played at Citi Field.
• Reliever Chad Qualls is the only current Astros player who has appeared in the postseason with the franchise, but that was in 2004 and '05. He returned to the Astros as a free agent for the 2014 team, and in between stints in Houston, he pitched for the D-backs, Rays, Padres, Phillies, Yankees, Pirates and Marlins.