After the past week of injuries and disappointment the St. Louis Cardinals have gotten back to their winning ways. They will attempt to secure a sweep of the San Diego Padres tonight facing former Cardinal hurler Jeff Suppan. The highlight of this turn of events has to be the re-emergence of Adam Wainwright.
Waino pitched a gem last night throwing a complete game shutout en route to his third win of the season. The real Adam Wainwright has finally stood up. Waino looked like the 20 game winner from 2010 and heir apparent to Chris Carpenter’s “Ace” crown.
I did not get to watch the entire game last night due to daddy duty. My little guy had a ballgame. I was charged with keeping the book which even made it difficult to check my phone for updates. We rushed to the car after the game to listen to it on the local radio station until we could get home.
The first thing I was struck by in the car was the description from John Rooney about Waino’s posture and demeanor tonight. When I got home I knew just what he meant. Waino looked intense and more comfortable than I have seen him all season. I had the opportunity to see him pitch a few weeks ago at Busch and he looked disjointed and uncomfortable. I can remember having a conversation with my brother at the game that he just wasn’t back yet.
I think he is now and all of Redbird Nation can rejoice! Between the recent slump of our sluggers and the hourly shuttle the club has had to run to the DL, last night was a welcome reprieve. As I have stated several times this year in my columns pitching is going to be essential to the Cardinals success this season. We have been able to enjoy the success of Lance Lynn as he has done his best Chris Carpenter imitation so far. We have been patiently waiting to see if Wainwright was going to be able to return to form.
There were two key things that struck me the most last night. First, once I got home and had the game on you could hear the “pop” in Yadier Molina’s glove that I felt was missing thus far this season. His velocity looked much better than it has all season. His Cutter was filthy. He had great command of his pitches and the mound. He was stalking the mound with a purpose. The confidence was back. If that remains, the National League hitters had better get ready.
The second thing that I noticed is that he looked like he was having fun. Wainwright has looked like he was laboring through his starts this season; just grinding to get through. This was different last night. One of my son’s coaches has a knack for noticing when one of the kids gets in his own head too much at the plate. Once he notices this he will call them by their name and encourage them by saying “let’s have some fun”. It’s a subtle reminder that this is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Winning goes a long way toward making it more fun, especially at the big league level. I don’t know if a coach told Wainwright that or not, but he looked like one of the kids last night. I love it when that stuff happens. It’s great as a fan to see and fantastic for our kids to see.
The night was not without its drama. Matt Carpenter pulled up lame after stroking a double. He was lifted for a pinch runner for precautionary reasons. Reports today seem to be positive and that it isn’t an oblique injury as most of us suspected. Hopefully the club won’t have to warm up the bus for another trip to Memphis to fill another vacant spot in the lineup. Is there anybody left down there??? We should know more after he undergoes and MRI today.
Wanwright’s complete game consisted of 111 pitches. 75 of which were strikes. He didn’t issue a walk until the ninth inning. It was the third shutout of his career and the first complete game from any Cardinal this season. He did an outstanding job working the count in his favor and kept from falling behind in the count.
Waino has to continue to return to this form to keep the injury plagued Cards afloat. The team responded well behind him last night. I think Rafael Furcal had his most outstanding defensive night of the season last night. If Adam can carry the success of last night over into his future starts it will carry this team a long way. Winning is fun. Let’s have some fun boys.