The 17-10 Cardinals once won a game 17-10


The Cardinals beat the Reds yesterday in the series rubber match to bring their division-leading record to 17-10. I didn't do the 90 seconds of research to ensure that this is their best record after 27 games since 2015, but I am almost certain that is the case.


The shape of "17-10," the way it looks in print, triggered my brain to a box score from back in the day when the Cardinals defeated another team by that same crooked figure. Meaning they scored 17 runs and the other team scored 10. Sure enough, a quick search on Baseball Reference's Play Index led me to the game.


On May 7, 1987 - which sounds right because that was the first season I religiously studied the box scores in the paper the next day - the Cardinals beat the dreadful Padres in San Diego 17-10. Jack Clark hit a home run. So did Skeeter Barnes, who was something of a real-life Crash Davis. It was the only home run Barnes would hit for the home team but that's not a surprise because his Cardinals career consisted of a mere four plate appearances, and he was released later that summer.


Starting pitcher Bob Forsch hit a double. Reserve catcher Steve Lake hit a triple, one of five he hit for his entire career. The rest of the team banged out 13 singles, and Terry Pendleton was responsible for three of them. Vince Coleman, of course, stole a base.


Unlike other high scoring games that can sometimes look lopsided at the final curtain, this game was never in doubt. The Cardinals entered the bottom of the 7th inning at old Jack Murphy Stadium with a 14-0 lead before the Padres put up five by then pretty pointless runs in both the 7th and 9th innings. Those runs came off Forsch - we didn't worry about the third time through the order as much back then - and Ray Soff, who I hadn't considered for a single second since 1987. Soff only threw 15.1 total innings that season - his second and last one in the bigs - so you can imagine what his ERA looked like for the season.


The Padres offense that day was mostly powered by familiar baseball names like Gwynn, Bochy, Kruk, and Garvey. The poor, losing pitcher on the mound for the Padres was Andy Hawkins, who is probably best known for throwing a no-hitter...and losing by four runs.


Both teams finished with 17 hits apiece. Thirty-four hits is a lot for one game, but not the most in 1987. The entire affair took three hours and thirteen minutes, which was not the norm for a 9-inning game back then. Only about one-third of Cardinals games in 1987 eclipsed the three hour mark. Those 17 runs were the most the Cardinals would score in a game in 1987, although they gave up ten or more a couple times before the season would conclude. Not a huge surprise there, the ball was probably juiced in 1987, after all.


Overall, the only reason what you're reading now exists in print is because the Cardinals are currently 17-10 and when I was eight I thought it was cool and weird that a baseball score looked like it came straight from a football almanac. And it was kind of cool and weird. That Cardinals team was very good, a Pennant winner, and even though they were not long ball fashionistas, they were still very good at getting on base (the best in the league at that, actually), and scoring runs (second to the damn Mets). But their pitching was relatively stingy, too. Usually, at least, as they allowed the fourth fewest runs in the NL.


The Cardinals have never beaten a team by the score of 17-11. They once beat the Phillies 18-10, but that happened over 80 years ago so I didn't read about it the next morning. Therefore, no matter what happens tonight in DC, don't expect another post like this tomorrow. Given the merits of this one being written in the first place, that's probably a good thing.