The St. Louis Cardinals parlayed their one game do-or-die situation into a meeting with the Washington Nationals. The Redbirds will play two home games before heading to Washington to try to clinch the best of 5 series there. Hopefully the will do so in just 3 games, but don’t ever discount a team that won 98 games during the regular season.
Adam Wainwright will take on Gio Gonzalez in the first game, in which first pitch is scheduled for 3:07 PM. The only help Wainwright could offer during the championship run last season was moral support. He will be far more than a spectator in this year’s run, and initial games of playoff series are always big.
Gio Gonzalez taking the hill for Washington is pretty big too. In just a few more days, Washington will host a playoff game for the first time since 1933. He’s nothing to sneeze at either, with a dazzling curve reminiscent of how crisp Adam Wainwright’s bender was a few years ago. With an ERA more than a full run less than Waino, the Cardinals may have to get creative against Gonzalez to find a formula that nets them their second win this postseason.
In his last start of the season, which was against the Washington Nationals, Adam Wainwright pitched 6 innings, allowing just 5 hits and 1 run, while striking out 5. The Redbirds left the field with a 12-2 victory. His one and only start this year against Gio Gonzalez ended much poorer, to the tune of a 10-0 loss in Washington. In that contest, Adam Wainwright lasted just 2 2/3 innings, yielding 6 runs on 9 hits, and throwing 86 pitches. Gio Gonzalez, on the other hand, tossed a complete game 5-hit shutout with 8 Ks on just 119 pitches.
I believe the truest test tomorrow afternoon will be the Washington Nationals dealing with a raucous crowd that is far more used to the bright lights of the postseason. After not being able to really celebrate their do or die win over the Atlanta Braves, I’m sure the Busch Stadium faithful will make more than sure to acknowledge their tremendous effort to date.
Under new manager Mike Matheny, this year has a little bit of a different flavor than years past, but still a very definitive tone of ‘let’s go get this ring, and take town anyone and everyone that stands in our path.’
One of the things to keep in mind tomorrow when Adam Wainwright takes the mound is that he is not far removed from Tommy John surgery. Wainwright said recently, “I totally get now why Tommy John recovery is so hard. Your arm just takes a while to get back, it really does. It’s hard for me to say that because I thought I was going to be the exception to the rule.”
That goes to show you the strength of character that he has, not to mention the confidence in himself. He was supposed to be on an innings limit this season that capped out at about 180 or so. Somehow, he convinced management to allow him to pitch the rest of the way. Now, here he is just 1 1/3 innings away from 200 for the season. What’s remarkable is that Wainwright is 2nd on the team in innings pitched this season, and has gone fewer than 6 innings just 7 times since the very beginning of the season.
It would have been nice to see Adam Wainwright pitch against the team that let him walk after drafting him 29th overall in 2000, but Waino has a little more revenge to exact on the Nationals and Gonzalez, who made him look silly in his August 31st start.
My Prediction: Though Gio Gonzalez has been the picture of consistency up to this point, I don’t see how he can maintain his composure under the bright lights of postseason baseball in St. Louis. I think that the Cardinals will come out swinging at a lot of his first pitches, and lead 4-1 by the time he leaves the game.
I think Adam Wainwright will show the Cardinals brass just why he pushed so hard to have his innings limit removed, by tossing at least 6 innings, and probably 7. My guess is that the final score will be 8-2. Let’s go out there tomorrow and stack win on top of win! Cardinal Nation, be sure to bring your cheering voice with you tomorrow afternoon. Root a little harder than normal for me. Oh, how I wish I could be there!