St. Louis Cardinals veteran Adam Wainwright gave himself, the Cardinals organization and the entire fan base a special 35th birthday present Tuesday night.
He returned to the form all of St. Louis Cardinals‘ fans have been wishing for, throwing seven innings and giving up just one earned run on three hits while striking out seven Milwaukee Brewers.
As the month of September arrives, the importance of this start goes beyond simply extending the St. Louis Cardinals lead in the second wild-card spot to more than two games.
This start can and will be used as a springboard to showing the rest of team, especially the starting pitching staff, that a leader has returned and is ready to stand on the front-lines and lead his followers to a playoff birth and beyond.
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This St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff needs a leader. This team thought they had a leader in Wainwright but the team building meetings became somewhat uncomfortable as their expected leader was a bit shaky, to say the least, in 2016.
Yet, even Wainwright was aware that being a leader meant making a stand and rallying the troops, not reassigning a new man to take the spot on the top of the totem pole. That seldom works.
Jaime Garcia, Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake, Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver might have drawn a collective sigh of relief and given Wainwright a firm hand shake and a ‘Welcome Back’. They needed their leader. They needed their voice in the wilderness. They were floundering without the man they knew to be their voice of reason and their stern but fair leader.
Not to mention the team as a whole. The St. Louis Cardinals knew Wainwright wasn’t destined for the bullpen, or , even worse, being put out to pasture to enjoy simply being remembered as one of the great Cardinals’ pitchers of the years gone by.
No way. Not Waino! He still has things to prove and this leader with the Birds on the Bat emblazoned across his chest will do just that, prove.
The St. Louis Cardinals wanted a spark? They got it in the form of a team leader reemerging. He’s back! And so is October baseball.