St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright addressed the media prior to World Series Game 4 against the Boston Red Sox. Wainwright is starting Game 5 on Monday night.
Q. When you said after Game 1 that you feel like you didn’t show them anything, were you being self‑deprecating or do you feel like this is a clean slate?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: It’s a pretty clean slate. I honestly don’t know why my mechanics were as bad as they were, my delivery was off as much as it was. But I feel like I’ve put a lot of good reps in in front of the mirror, and watching film and feeling my delivery again, learning the basics all over again. I feel like I’ve made a lot of good adjustments to be ready for this next game to throw some quality pitches. I threw maybe four or five quality pitches the whole time I was pitching. Luckily to come away with just a few runs; it could have been ten instead of five.
Q. You’ve been playing baseball many years, obviously. You were an observer of a unique situation. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, how do you analyze what happened last night? What was going through your mind?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: The funny thing was I didn’t see him throw it away. I saw Pedroia make the great play, throw it home and got Yadier out, and I thought that was the end of it, so I turned my back. All of a sudden people started running out on the field, and so ‑‑ I didn’t know what happened, but I was running out on the field, too. And I got about halfway out there and saw Craig out by a couple of feet, and started tiptoeing backwards back into the dugout, and called him safe, and I thought, wow, I think I’ve just witnessed the worst call in the history of the game at home plate (laughter), only to find out there was obstruction. So there were four or five times I didn’t know what the heck was going on.
As a baseball fan, you hate to see a game end like that. Obviously I’m on the Cardinals, so I’m fortunate the rule is the way it is. And you hate to say it, but he impeded the process of running home. But I totally understand why Red Sox players would be upset about that. That is just a horrible way to lose a baseball game, no question about it, especially after such a great play by Dustin at second.
Q. You guys got Beltran playing with bad ribs and now it was obvious that Allen Craig was scrambling with a sore foot. You have two guys that are key guys on your team banged up, but they’re out there playing. What does that mean for the team?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Just means they’re focused more. Sometimes when players are a little dinged up, they go out there with a little more mental sharpness. I think when you’re seeing Carlos going out there and still putting up quality at‑bats, and luckily he wasn’t hurt too bad on that play. I told him it was my fault for throwing a bad pitch to Papi and letting him hit it that far.
I think they’re just very good baseball players. I think Allen could roll out of bed after not hitting all offseason and hit .400 in postseason with guys on base, like he always does. I think he could hit . 300, 15‑20 home runs, not practicing. I think he’s just very gifted.
And as far as Carlos goes, he’s talent‑wise one of the most gifted baseball players in this era. I don’t think anybody would argue with you there. Two very gifted guys.
Q. When Chris Carpenter was here, and you talked before about learning from him and the role he played here, when it became ‑‑ I think it was during the summer when he had the press conference or during the winter and it looked like he wasn’t going ‑‑ he tried, but it became obvious he wasn’t going to pitch this year. How much did you embrace that role? You had so many young guys here, how much did you sort of make it a mission to sort of set the tone and the personality for of the pitching staff this year, like he did?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: To be honest with you, I don’t feel like I had to change what I do at all. I felt like that was the tone that was kind of taught to me and I was already doing that, whether Carp was there or not. I think that a young player should be able to watch what I do and see positive stuff in that, and want to figure out what’s worked for me over the years. I don’t think I changed anything, to be honest with you.
And I spent some time in Spring Training this year trying to figure out what my role needed to be. I came to the park for three or four days straight, analyzing the clubhouse and trying to figure out if I needed to be different. Do I need to be more stern with these guys? Do I need to be more of a friend to these guys? Do I need to be super vocal? Do I need to be the opposite? And I figured out that, you know what, I just need to be me. And that was fine.
Q. I’m curious now that Lance Lynn has been through several postseasons, what do you think the value is of his particular postseason experience, as far as his development changing over time? And just in general, what you think postseason experience is, especially in light of seeing so many of your very young teammates doing so well, whether your view of that has changed at all this year?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I think Lance is a winning pitcher. There’s certain guys that the team plays well behind. And the last couple of years the team has responded really well when Lance has been on the mound. He’s got 18 and 14 or 15 wins. He pitched 200 innings this year. He’s a quality pitcher. He’s got big‑time stuff.
And Lance is still learning, as well. Some of these young guys, and Lance is one of those, they’re still finding their way. I think Lance Lynn could be one of the best pitchers in baseball; I do. I tell him that all the time. He’s got all the pitches. He’s got the high fastball, the good sinking fastball, he’s got a good split change‑up that he doesn’t throw very often. He’s got a very good curveball and a very good slider. He’s got all the pitches. He’s just got to hone in a little bit.
In the postseason Lance has been a monster. He jokes with me all the time because he’s got more postseason wins than I do. I think he’s third all time on the Cardinals’ list or something like that. And he’s just is a guy who we play well behind, and he’s big‑time stuff.
Q. Do you think it matters, though, the postseason experience, especially in light of seeing Michael Wacha pitch as well as he has?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I think it can matter. I said this earlier this year, if you look at postseason experience as an advantage, then it will be. And if you look at it as “I don’t have it, so I’m at a disadvantage”, then you will be at a disadvantage. There’s certainly moments in the postseason where you can draw off of and find strength there; there’s no question about that. But in a case like Michael or Carlos Martinez, these guys are so talented, that any amount of playoff experience really doesn’t matter. It might help them mentally just a hair, but I think they’re going to be just fine either way.
Q. Clay Buchholz has had sort of a trying season in terms of injuries. And he’s told the Red Sox that he has one start, exactly one start left in him. I believe during the LCS you talked about being in that position where you get to the end of the year, end of October and feel like, I’ve got one bullet left, here we go. What’s it like leading up to that last start and knowing that you’re sort of at the end?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Well, last year I had, after my Game 4 start in the NLCS here in St. Louis, I figured I had about one start left. But unfortunately I didn’t get to make that start; we lost. He’s in a different boat because he gets to make his start. He’s also in a different boat because it’s the shoulder and it’s a whole different situation. But what I do know about him, he’s got very good stuff and he’s a gamer. He’ll find a way to make it tough, I know that.
Q. Not to put words in your mouth, but I recall you describing the 2011 run through the postseason as maybe kind of bittersweet. Is that kind of extra motivation having missed out on that? Is there motivation now to get it done when you’re at the top of your game?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I would never say it was bittersweet, just for the fact that ‑‑ that doesn’t sound quite right as far as a team winning the World Series. There’s no bitterness to that. I do wish I could have been a part of it. But it was still pretty sweet to be there, to experience that.
But it does add motivation for this year, the importance of bringing it home here in St. Louis or against ‑‑ or in Boston, wherever we do it. We are very confident. I’m very confident. I do have more excitement going into this series because of that experience that I got to watch it. It’s one thing to watch it and that’s cool, but it’s another to be a part of it.
Q. Two questions: No. 1, can you talk about potentially pitching a game‑clincher game for the Cardinals tomorrow? And No. 2, what did you learn from pitching against the Red Sox in Game 1?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: I’ll answer the second one first: I learned that they hit mistakes. And I learned that if I make mistakes in the middle of the plate up in the zone, they’re going to hit them.
But as far as the clincher goes, I’m not putting the cart before the horse here. We need to win Game4 first and get me in that situation. I would love for that situation to happen. I would love to be able to go out there and pitch in a potentially clinching game. Nothing would make me more happy. But I know we have a tough game tonight ahead.
Q. Golf question.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: 3.7 handicap.
Q. I already know that (laughter).
Is there something about ‑‑ I don’t think there’s another position, certainly in baseball anyway, that can connect more directly to golf, because the ball’s in your hand. Is there something about golf and the challenge to mentally focus with each shot and everything that does relate and does help you in terms of pitching?
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Absolutely there is. That was John Smoltz‘s big thing, he always said if he never had golf, he would have never made it in baseball. It was a good ‑‑ first, it helped him escape from the field, but it also sharpened his mind.
And you’re exactly right. In a blink of an eye in this game, as fast as it is, you can absolutely go out there and not focus for a couple of pitches, and have a team score three runs off of you. Just the same way you can hit a ball 40 yards left out of bounds, and you’re hitting 3 off the tee and all of a sudden you triple‑bogey when you were 2‑under going into nine.
So I’ve been there and done both of those, unfortunately. And the lessons you learn from it. The best golfers in the world, when Tiger Woods was at his height and still where he’s at, they never let up mentally. When I was hurt in 2011 I got to go to Augusta National and watch The Masters, and just watching them, just following every shot. I wanted to follow golfers for extended amounts of time just to see if they let up. And every single shot, every single putt was like it was the last putt to win the whole thing or it was like the last shot to win the whole thing or it was like the last pitch of the World Series. And that’s the focus you have to have when you start. So it’s very similar.