(BaseballStL) -- Once again, the Cardinals are back in first in the NL Central. Following a 9-2 drubbing of the Pirates, the Birds hold a one game lead in the division and play 16 of their final 19 games against teams with sub-.500 records (Milwaukee, Chicago, Seattle and Colorado).
The nine runs came without a homer, which is the 77th time the Cardinals have gone through a game without going yard.
Here they sit atop the division, and they rank 27th in home runs. Pittsburgh, their closest pursuer, ranks 25th.
The Mariners (167 homers, second in baseball) and the Cubs (158 home runs) are both bashing the long ball, and both more than 18 games back in their respective divisions.
In fact, despite all five remaining teams on the Cardinal schedule being in the top half of the league in home runs, none of them have a positive run differential.
Where the Birds are at +147, the best differential out of the final five teams is Washington at -3. The Mariners, despite their prodigious home run total, are at a staggering -102.
Cardinal hitters have put 111 balls over the wall, which is 27 less than the Milwaukee Brewers.
For months, Cardinal fans have preached how the mighty Redbirds don’t have to depend on a home run hitter, they can “find other ways to win.” That’s true to a point, but the numbers say a ball over the fence is best for Birds.
In games in which the Cardinals hit a home run, their record is 49-17. When they don’t? 34-43.
If they hit two or more home runs, they are 25-5. St. Louis may not NEED a homer to win, but it seems to make it a whole lot easier.
Still, they have managed to find offense in their stretches of dinger droughts. Their .441 winning percentage paints an optimistic picture if they can’t go yard down the stretch.
It’s better than Pittsburgh, who posted a 20-35 record when failing to homer. It’s certainly better than Seattle, who have only won 10 of their 42 games without a home run. Even the mighty Orioles, who have only gone without a tater in 30 games, lost more than half of their homerless contests.
While some more pop in the Cardinal bats would be nice, and certainly make winning easier, the team has certainly gained experience winning without them. If nothing else, it will keep hope alive if the power is switched off.