The St. Louis Cardinals dropped the first two games of a three-game set against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. Once again, they needed Adam Wainwright to come through and stop the bleeding. And once again, he did. Going into the season, it was easy to write him off, but Wainwright still wins ballgames. As frustrating as the season has been for the Cardinals, it would be far worse without him pitching every five days. His performances have been clutch most of the year, and his trips to the mound have been particularly strong of late.
Optimism Quickly Fades
For a brief moment it looked as though fortunes had changed for the Cardinals. They owned a six-game winning streak and had won eight out of nine games before the Milwaukee Brewers arrived in town to kick off an eight-game homestand. The Cards promptly dropped two out of three to the division-leading Brewers. The Pirates arrival in town presented an opportunity to get back on track quickly, but Pittsburgh refused to cooperate. On Friday night, the Cardinals squandered a solid start by Miles Mikolas as the offense failed to score. On Saturday, it was the bullpen that faltered after J.A. Happ pitched six strong innings and the offense managed four runs.
Wainwright Wins 12th Game of the Year
On Sunday afternoon, Wainwright took the hill. There was little opportunity for the offense to come up short or the bullpen to fumble the lead away. He threw eight innings, allowing two hits and no runs. Wainwright punched out nine and still looked sharp to end the eighth, but he had thrown 109 pitches, so Alex Reyes was summoned to get the save. It would be his 28th of the year.
In Wainwright’s last seven starts, he’s been magnificent. The right-hander has had seven quality starts and has finished the seventh inning in six out of his last seven appearances. During that time, he has logged a 1.76 ERA. The team has went 6-1 in those games.
Wainwright the Stopper
While it’s obvious that Wainwright is pitching excellent of late, it’s important to note how clutch his performances have been all year. In his 25 starts, Wainwright has pitched the day after a loss on ten occasions. The Cardinals are 8-2 in those starts. Wainwright has nine quality starts in those ten games, a record of 6-2, and an ERA of 2.86. In fact, that 2.86 ERA is inflated by a four inning start when he surrendered six runs. The Cardinals haven’t always been able to maintain positive momentum after his starts, but he has been effective at halting the negative momentum for the team.
Wainwright will turn 40 at the end of the month, but it will be interesting to see if he will return for another year as he clearly has a lot to offer the club. He has done all he can this year to keep the Cardinals’ playoff hopes alive. The Cardinals are five games back in the race for the second wild card with the Detroit Tigers set to come to town for a two-game series on Tuesday.
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