Trevor Hoffman’s first loss in the big leagues was to the Cardinals.
Hoffman, the relief specialist who retired Jan. 12, 2011, with 601 saves, had his share of success against the Cardinals (6 wins, 25 saves), but he had some spectacular setbacks, too.
Against teams whom he faced at least 10 times in his career, Hoffman’s ERA was highest vs. St. Louis (4.09 in 51 regular-season games).
Though he lost to the Cardinals three times in the regular season, none of those defeats occurred during his time with the Padres, whom he pitched for in 16 of his 18 big-league seasons.
Two of his losses to St. Louis came while with the Brewers (2009-10).
The other occurred in 1993 when he broke into the majors with the expansion Marlins.
On May 16, 1993, at St. Louis, Hoffman was 1-0 with 1 save and a 2.33 ERA when he was brought in by manager Rene Lachemann to face the Cardinals in the bottom of the ninth of a scoreless game.
With one out, Gregg Jefferies singled to center, stole second base and advanced to third on catcher Steve Decker’s errant throw. Hoffman issued intentional walks to Ray Lankford and Mark Whiten, loading the bases.
With third baseman Stan Royer, hitless in the game, due up next, manager Joe Torre called on Todd Zeile to pinch hit. Zeile’s single to center scored Jefferies, giving St. Louis a 1-0 victory and handing Hoffman his first loss. Boxscore
It would be 16 years before Hoffman lost to the Cardinals again in the regular season. On Sept. 8, 2009, at Milwaukee, Matt Holliday’s two-run, ninth-inning homer off Hoffman carried St. Louis to a 4-3 victory. Boxscore
The next year, on April 9 at Milwaukee, pinch-hitter Nick Stavinoha’s two-run homer off Hoffman in the ninth lifted the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory. Boxscore
“I came through in a spot everybody dreams to be put in,” Stavinoha told reporters.
Two other Cardinals homers against Hoffman are especially noteworthy:
_ In Game 3 of the 1996 National League Division Series at San Diego, Hoffman entered in the ninth with the score 5-5. Brian Jordan’s two-run homer to left gave St. Louis a 7-5 victory and a sweep of the best-of-five series. Boxscore
“I kept my hands back good and I hit it pretty good,” Jordan told the New York Daily News.
Said Hoffman: “My mistake. In that situation, you can’t be putting a slider over the middle of the plate.”
_ A year later, June 10, 1997, at San Diego, a matchup of two of the game’s great relievers _ Hoffman and Dennis Eckersley _ became a debacle for both.
With the Padres leading 3-1 in the ninth, Hoffman entered and yielded four runs _ the last two on Delino DeShields’ two-out, two-run homer _ to put St. Louis ahead, 5-3.
Eckersley came in to attempt a save, but Tony Gwynn’s two-out, two-run double tied the score at 5-5. San Diego won, 6-5, with a run in the 12th. Boxscore