Adam Wainwright had the best start of any St. Louis Cardinals starter this year but still took the loss to the Phillies.
Sometimes, you don’t lose, you just get beat. On Monday night, that is exactly what happened to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Ageless Wonder, Adam Wainwright, took the mound against Zach Wheeler and the Phillies in the first game of four at Busch in what was the best pitcher’s duel we have seen in quite some time.
On one side, Wainwright masterfully wound through a couple of sticky situations by getting double plays. On the other, Wheeler didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the fifth when Paul DeJong poked a single to right. It was a scoreless duel on both sides until Waino hung a solitary curveball a bit too high in the zone to Rhys Hoskins in the 7th. Hoskins wasted no time in depositing the ball into Big Mac Land, giving the Phils a lead.
Still though, Waino persevered as it was only his 71st pitch of the game that got hit out. On the other side, Wheeler kept dealing too. Through 8.0 innings, Wheeler had nine strikeouts and just one hit allowed.
Despite Wainwright getting hit hard in the 8th, he was sent back out for the 9th inning. In return for Mike Shildt’s confidence, Wainwright pitched a perfect 9th, outside of hanging another pitch, a cutter, to Hoskins again. Hoskins treated this gift the same as he did the first, hitting it out. Regardless of the two solo shots, Wainwright threw a complete game, his first since last season and by far the best start by a Cardinal pitcher this year.
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- The St. Louis Cardinals sign catcher Willson Contreras
- Cardinals: Day 3 of Winter Meetings brings first move and catcher rumors
- Cardinals Rumors: Growing buzz that St. Louis will sign Willson Contreras
- Cardinals Rumors: Here is what Oakland is asking for Sean Murphy
- The St. Louis Cardinals’ 2024 rotation needs work
In the end, Wheeler was chased from the game before recording an out in the 9th and the Cardinals lost by about 10 feet, ending the game on a Nolan Arenado flyout to the track. Despite the 9th inning rally that gave a lot of hope, it was a disappointing end to an overall great game.
Some may choose to look at this only as a loss, but Wheeler simply made fewer mistakes than Wainwright did. Rhys Hoskins is one of the hottest hitters on the planet right now, homering six times in the past seven days.
The other way to view last night’s game is with optimism. The starting rotation was not a strength at the start of the year. However, in the past 10 days, they have shown a ton of improvement. Wainwright throwing a complete game at age 39 is a wonder in and of itself, but the Cardinals are in the middle of a 17-game stretch with no breaks. Each day that the bullpen gets used less is huge for this stretch of games.
To put Wainwright’s resurgence in perspective, this is now his third complete game in the past two seasons. In the five seasons prior, he had just one. Wow.
Sure, the offense disappearing is frustrating, but Wheeler looked unhittable. It wasn’t like he was giving the Cardinals much to handle. Wheeler worked fast and threw strikes; he simply threw a better game.
Wainwright’s complete game shows he still has it and it gave the bullpen a de-facto night off. The Phillies rotation is stellar, but the Cardinals are going to have to find a way to get some hits this series as losing four straight at home would be awful after the high of sweeping the Reds.