St. Louis Cardinals: Wainwright continues to be the Stopper

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 09: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 to 1 in Game Five of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 9, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 09: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 to 1 in Game Five of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 9, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright is the ace of the rotation and plays the role of stopper with his second straight vintage performance.

The St. Louis Cardinals fell to the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 5-2 last night.  Fans would be wise to take a close look at the box score before casting blame on the losing pitcher, because  Adam Wainwright was phenomenal last night.

Waino took a no-hitter through 5 and 1/3 innings last night, and gave up only 3 hits over six innings of 2-run ball – pitching into the seventh inning in a 1-1 game before giving up a solo homer and getting the hook.

Did I mention that Wainwright also drove in the only St. Louis Cardinals run through the first 8 innings?  Wainwright was excellent for the second start in a row – proving that he is a reliable rotation fixture and is currently performing as the ace of this staff (boy how much do you miss Carlos Martinez now?).

St. Louis Cardinals
CHICAGO, IL – AUGUST 12: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after giving up an RBI double to Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the first inning at Wrigley Field on August 12, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

For Waino’s second straight start, he gave up one run through six complete innings of work.  His ERA dropped below 4 to 3.94, and, more importantly, he is trending in an excellent direction.  Waino also showed decent velocity and great control last night. His fastball was consistently around 90-91, and his cutter was working for him. If anything, his curve ball control was not very good last night and that hurt him in a couple of key moments.

The offense fails over and over again

The offense failed to support Waino’s vintage performance. The offense was a paltry 1-12 with runners in scoring position and left ten men on base.

Who had the lone hit with a runner in scoring position?  If you guessed Adam Wainwright, then you are correct.  Indeed, the offense stunk so bad that Matt Carpenter stood stranded at third base with nobody out in the first inning (unforgivable against Tanner Roark).  Then, the team stranded Marcel Ozuna at third with only one out.  This team has to be better at situation hitting.

Even our best hitters, Paul DeJong and Paul Goldschmidt are failing to put the ball in play or drive in the runner from third. Strikeouts and failed home run swings hurt more than ever when the team puts guys on base. Even a well-placed ground out would have put a run on the board in the first inning.  Your 2-3-4 hitters have to be able to do that.  Winning teams bring those runs home.

The coaching staff was as bad as the offense

To that end, when will the honeymoon for Mike Shildt end?  Shildt continues to make questionable decisions and non-decisions and nobody is saying a word about it. Maybe the beat writers will start to ask hard-hitting questions instead of coddling Shildt because he’s nicer than Mike Matheny.

I, for one, do not want to wait for John Brebbia‘s arm to fall off to ask for accountability.  There are several examples of Shildt’s shortcomings over the past few weeks, but there is one glaring example that stood out from this game. Leaving Dexter Fowler in to face hard-throwing left-handed pitcher Amir Garrett was a huge mistake.

Dexter cannot hit a broad side of a barn hitting right handed and those problems are exacerbated by high velocity. This was the best time to use Jose Martinez or Tyler O’Neill, but Dex got yet another chance – and he failed again. For those keeping track at home, Dexter Fowler has seven hits in 43 plate appearances and only two extra base hits. Meanwhile, Dex fails to put the ball in play – he has 14 strikeouts this year.

Are there better options?  Of course there are. Tyler O’Neill has six hits and five fewer strikeouts than Dex in 23 plate appearances. O’Neill, as a defensive replacement, made a valiant effort on a line drive last night that Dexter would not have been in the video frame for – he has a lot of outfield speed that Dex does not show.

Jose Martinez has seven hits and only five strikeouts in 28 plate appearances.  Jose looks passable in the outfield and we are not giving his bat a chance to get right.

When will Shildt be held accountable for repeatedly failing to put the best players on the field or use his best options at the right time? How long will Shildt play Dexter Fowler through his continued struggles and lackadaisical effort? These games are important and I think it is time to start holding Shildt accountable.

While the loss stings, fans should focus on the positives.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Reds in a game they should have won. That much is clear.  However, Wainwright looks like the ace of the staff over his last two starts and those results are incredibly promising. The team had a lot of traffic on the bases, and just failed to drive those runs in. I would rather have opportunities with runners on base than not.

Related Story. Cardinals take ownership stake in Dodgers. light

If Wainwright continues to pitch the way he has been pitching, this team will be very successful.  We decimated a super hot Dodgers team and then played down to our competition in the Cincinnati game.  Hopefully we do better today, but I like a lot of what I am seeing from this team and you should too.