2013 - NLDS Game 5
After missing the entire 2011 Championship season with Tommy John surgery and watching co-ace Chris Carpenter have a post-season of the ages, Wainwright was licking his lips with the opportunity to have his moment in 2013.
A return from TJ in 2012 where Waino wasn't his best yet, 2013 saw a true return to form with his regular season stats of 19-9, 2.94 ERA, and career-high 6.26 SO/walk ratio. He also led the league that year with 5 CGs and 2 shut-outs. he, unfortunately, finished 2nd in Cy-Young voting to the monster that was Clayton Kershaw. Nonetheless, Wainwright would tell you that none of that mattered as he got his opportunity, his moment, in the postseason of 2013.
The Cardinals clinched the NL Central division title and awaited the Pittsburgh Pirates as the Buccos were heading to their first postseason since 1992 and took out the Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd iteration of the NL Wild Card Game. Waino and the Birds took Game 1, 9-1 but St. Louis quickly found themselves down 2-1 in the series after Game 3 and on the brink of elimination. After an incredible pitching performance by then-rookie Michael Wacha in Game 4 in Pittsburgh, the Cardinals shifted the series back to St. Louis for Game 5 and handed the ball to their ace, Adam Wainwright.
The stage was set for a legendary matchup with Garret Cole opposite Waino in this one and for the most part, the matchup lived up to the billing. Cole didn't pitch terribly as he only allowed 2 runs through 5 on a two-run homer to David Freese in the 2nd, but alas it was not enough for the Pirates. On the home side of the rubber, Wainwright was brilliant. He struck out 6 and navigated through 9 full innings and avoided some trouble in the 7th allowing 1 run as he stifled the Pirates the whole night and clinched the third straight NLCS birth for his team.
Again, after missing the entire 2011 season, including the championship push. For Wainwright, fans, teammates, friends, and family, this was an extremely special moment. One that he or anyone watching won't soon forget.