Adam Wainwright silences Brewers bats, critics

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.





Cardinals must persevere despite disappointments

It’s been a tough week for the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans.

Not only did the Redbirds lose a couple of rough games against the Miami Marlins, putting a damper on their recent hot streak. But then they lost their spark plug, Aledmys Diaz, to a broken thumb. After that, there wasn’t a whole lot of help added to the roster at the trade deadline. Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs made several higher-profile acquisitions.

But none of that matters. The Cardinals must find a way to push forward.

I still believe they have enough talent to be a playoff contender. Now that those players know no one is going to ride in on a white horse to save them, the Birds simply need to find a way to reach down and find out what the guys who are here are made of.

While Diaz is a big loss, the good news is that the Cardinals are going to going to regain three of their key offensive players from the disabled list over the next few days. Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Perata and Brandon Moss will all give the offense a boost. So, hopefully, St. Louis can keep those guys healthy — and then when Diaz comes back they’ll finally be at 100 percent for the first time this season just in time for the stretch run and the post-season.

The reason to be optimistic is that the team seems to have awoken Kolten Wong. Over the past two weeks, he’s hitting .333 over the past two weeks and .438 over his past seven games. Presumably, the Cardinals can restore Peralta as starting shortstop, Carpenter can slide back over to third base and Wong can return to second on a full-time basis.

On the other hand, Peralta struggled terribly during his first attempt to return from a thumb injury suffered in spring training. So Cardinals fans are left to wonder if things are going to be much different this time around.

Another bright spot is that the Birds resume play tonight with a series against the Cincinnati Reds, a team that was among the worst in baseball even before they were trade deadline sellers.

St. Louis simply MUST take advantage of this week spot in its schedule and try to sweep Cincinnati to make up for the two poor losses in Florida.

The Cardinals are still within reach of the playoffs. But they are out of time for excuses. They need to start winning now if they want to run down the Cubs — or at least solidify a wild card spot.