In 2012, Kyle Lohse began the season with four dominant starts, an opening stretch not experienced by a Cardinals pitcher since Larry Jaster.
Lohse became the first Cardinal to pitch at least six innings while yielding one earned run or fewer in each of his first four starts of a season since Jaster in 1968, Elias Sports Bureau research shows.
In his first four starts in 2012, Lohse was 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA. He yielded one earned run in each of the three games he won and no earned runs in a game in which he got no decision. The Cardinals won all four: 4-1 over the Marlins on April 4 Boxscore, 3-1 over the Reds on April 10 Boxscore, 2-1 over the Reds on April 17 Boxscore and 5-1 over the Pirates on April 22 Boxscore.
Unlike Lohse, who was the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter, Jaster began the 1968 season in the bullpen. A 24-year-old left-hander, Jaster was 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA in seven relief appearances until he moved into the rotation in late May.
Here is how he did in his first four starts that season:
_ Cardinals 2, Dodgers 1, May 20, 1968, at St. Louis: Jaster pitched a complete-game two-hitter, yielding singles to first baseman Wes Parker and second baseman Paul Popovich, and stopped the Cardinals’ four-game losing streak.
The Dodgers scored an unearned run in the first. Center fielder Willie Davis walked, took second on a passed ball by Tim McCarver, was bunted to third and scored on a groundout by third baseman and ex-Cardinal Ken Boyer.
Jaster had pitched five consecutive shutouts against the Dodgers in 1966. After he baffled the Dodgers again with his first start of 1968, frustrated Los Angeles manager Walter Alston stormed into the clubhouse, grabbed a box of bubble gum and threw it across the room “as players and the chewey pellets scattered,” The Sporting News reported. Boxscore
_ Phillies 1, Cardinals 0, May 25, 1968, at St. Louis: Lack of run support led to Jaster taking a loss, even though he held Philadelphia to one earned run in 7.1 innings.
The Phillies scored in the sixth when a sacrifice fly by center fielder Don Lock drove in right fielder Johnny Callison from third.
St. Louis was held to five singles by ex-Cardinal Larry Jackson and reliever Turk Farrell. The Cardinals had two on with one out in the ninth when Farrell relieved and got third baseman Phil Gagliano to pop out and pinch-hitter Dave Ricketts to line out. Boxscore
_ Cardinals 2, Mets 0, May 31, 1968, at New York: Outdueling Tom Seaver with a dazzling curve to complement his fastball and change-up, Jaster pitched a complete-game two-hitter, walking none.
The Mets were hitless until first baseman Greg Goossen singled between short and third on a 2-and-2 curve with two out in the eighth.
“It wasn’t a bad pitch. The pitch was lower than waist high,” Jaster said to The Sporting News.
A ninth-inning single by center fielder Don Bosch accounted for New York’s other hit.
“I think I would have got the perfect game if I had got past Goossen,” Jaster said. Boxscore
_ Cardinals 3, Astros 1, June 5, 1968, at Houston: Jaster allowed one earned run in eight innings. Wayne Granger pitched the ninth for the save. Third baseman Bob Aspromonte drove in right fielder Jim Wynn from third with a single for Houston’s run. Boxscore
Jaster was 4-2 with a 0.98 ERA after the win over Houston. He won just once after July 23, losing eight of his last nine decisions and finishing 9-13 with a 3.51 ERA.