Adam Wainwright notched his first win of the 2012 season last night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Image: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE)

Rants Daily: Wainwright nabs first win as Cardinals beat Pirates 10-7


Adam Wainwright won his first game of the 2012 season backed by homers from David Freese, Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-7.

Wainwright’s victory, his first since September 2010, took much longer to get than anyone expected. But, that is the unpredictability of baseball and one of the consequences of returning from a major surgery. We’re just not sure what to expect right out of the gate.

Wainwright pitched seven innings, allowing four earned runs all coming off of home runs. Jose Tabata reached him for a two-run homer in the third and Pedro Alvarez did the same in the seventh.

Wainwright benefited from a Cardinals power surge after scoring their first two runs via Pirates errors. In the fifth inning with the score tied at two, David Freese blasted a three-run shot to center field scoring Holliday and Carlos Beltran. Yadier Molina doubled next and was driven in by Allen Craig‘s single making the score 6-2. It was Craig’s first game of the season after spending the first month on the disabled list.

This was plenty for Wainwright to work with and the Cardinals were able to tack on three more runs, one on another Pirates’ error and two on Furcal’s homer.

Fernando Salas came into the game in the eighth as the Cardinals led 10-4. He got the first two batters out and then walked the next two. Garrett Jones drove in both runners with a single. Following a Neil Walker single, J.C. Romero entered the game to face the left-handed hitting Alvarez. He poked a single to right to drive in Jones bringing the Pirates within three, 10-7. Victor Marte induced a ground out from Nate McLouth to end the threat.

Jason Motte worked a scoreless ninth to notch his fourth save of the season.

NOTEWORTHY
  • The Cardinals announced they will retire Tony La Russa’s number 10 this season in a ceremony on May 11th.
  • Molina stole two bases in yesterday’s game giving him four on the season.
  • Craig went 2-for-4 in his return with a RBI.
  • Erik Komatsu was designated for assignment to make room for Craig’s return.
  • Lance Berkman is not confident in his return from the DL on Friday when he becomes eligible.
TODAY’S GAME

Lance Lynn is on the hill in search of his fifth victory of the season. A.J. Burnett, who is making his third start of the season, takes the ball for the Pirates.

MY TWO CENTS

For what it’s worth, as I was watching Wainwright yesterday he looked on top of his game. He seemed to be in complete control and working at a quick pace which showed he was feeling good about himself on the mound.

He is going to make mistakes like he did to Tabata and Alvarez, but each time out his stuff will be more refined. His curveball was the best I have seen it all season and led to four of his six strikeouts, three swinging, against only one walk on the night.

I’m not sure Wainwright will agree with what I’m about to say, but if there is any consolation for his disappointing April, it’s the fact that he has only thrown 26.2 innings so far this season. At just over 5 innings per start, he has limited the number of throws early on, which will only benefit him when the Cardinals truly need him at the end of the season and hopefully in the playoffs. Yesterday he was able to get in seven innings with only 92 pitches. I’d bet he would take that every time out.

As I’ve mentioned before, patience is going to be the key with Wainwright this season. He may never fully reach his 2009 and 2010 level this year, but he will be better than most opponents each time out. It looks to me like he has turned the corner and will continue to inch his way back to the dominant pitcher he was before the surgery.

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Allen Craig Cardinals Carlos Beltran David Freese Erik Komatsu Fernando Salas Garrett Jones Jason Motte Jose Tabata Lance Berkman Lance Lynn Matt Holliday Neil Walker Pedro Alvarez Pittsburgh Pirates Rafael Furcal St Louis Cardinals Victor Marte Yadier Molina

  • Marilyncolor

    I have seen incremental improvements each time.  He threw a couple of wicked cutters last night, which was a pitch he had been having issues with.  His curve is much better, he just hung that one that burned him.  His velocity is still not what it was, though if Gameday is accurate, he did manage a 92 and 93 mph Sinker/FB at one point.  It is all going to come back eventually.

  • http://www.redbirdrants.com/ Chris_Carelli

     @Marilyncolor
    I suspect the complete velocity will be the last thing we see. Even then, if his offspeed stuff is working him sitting 92-94 is going to be fine. Right now, he has to be able to keep the speed differential off so it fools batters.