It seems most of the blogosphere spent the time since St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright’s last start writing the obituary on his career.
But the veteran hurler celebrated his 35th birthday Tuesday with an encouraging performance against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Wainwright threw seven innings, scattering three hits and allowing only one run. He walked none while striking out seven. Wainwright hit up to 94 mph on the radar gun and showed some of his best command and control of the 2016 season. He didn’t look quite dead yet.
Unfortunately, the St. Louis hitters took most of the night off, scoring only one run of their own in regulation. So Wainwright was left without a chance to notch his 10th win of the campaign. But it’s certainly encouraging as we head into the last month of the season to see the ace bounce back with a vintage performance. While folks have spent the better part of the last two weeks speculating whether Waino or young hurler Carlos Martinez would be preferable to start for St. Louis in a potential wild card game, it’s fairly obvious that the Cardinals are going to need more than one effective starter if they’re going to go very deep into the playoffs.
Also encouraging Tuesday evening was outfielder Randal Grichuk’s two-strike hit in extra innings that plated what would turn out to be the winning run. It was the second day in a row that Grichuk, twice deposed to the minor leagues this season, provided a clutch hit. It wasn’t the two-run homer he had to tie Monday’s game. But Wainwright smartly served a ball into right field with two strikes to get the job done. He’s obviously becoming less predictable and more capable at the plate.
He’s hitting .286 over the past two weeks with six homers and 14 RBIs.
The Birds are going to need Grichuk to continue to be productive through September because, with the end of the minor league season and the rehab opportunities it offers earlier in the year, sluggers Matt Holliday and Aledmys Diaz are less likely to be able to come back and be productive as they try to recover from hand injuries.
The discouraging thing about the game is the fact that the Cardinals had a runner on third base with no outs in a one-run game in the 10th and couldn’t drive him in.
Tommy Pham struck out looking at Greg Garcia struck out swinging in the top when they had a chance to drive in an important insurance run. Because of it, the Cardinals nearly blew the lead in the bottom of the 10th when Milwaukee got a pair of walks to lead off its half of the frame.
Manager Mike Matheny might as well have left his closer in the game if the pinch hitter Garcia was incapable of even putting the ball in play. Instead, rookie Matt Bowman pitched into all sorts of trouble and had to be bailed out by lefty Zach Duke.