The script was irresistible. The ace of the staff, trained up by the tough old warrior, had been roughed up like he’d never been roughed up before. This is when he’d rise to the challenge, steel his resolve, and plow through those enemies like a knife through butter.
If that’s the script, someone called for a rewrite.
Adam Wainwright was supposed to dominate, but instead got beaten around the yard yet again by a team the Cardinals were trying to eliminate from serious contention. Instead of the initial deluge, it came in more drips and drabs (though Shin-Soo Choo‘s three-run homer was more like a full bucket) but again Wainwright couldn’t summon up that won’t-break results that we’ve seen over the past few years from him.
Wainwright’s contention is that he’s “a big, strong guy” and that overwork isn’t the reason for this. I’m not going to argue with him, because he is a very strong guy who would be termed a workhorse. But look at these numbers:
1-3, 5.51 ERA, .817 OPS, 2.00 K/BB
Those are the numbers Waino put up from his last start in August 2012 until the end of the season. The first two starts of that span were similar to this, where Wainwright gave up six runs in 2.2 innings to Washington, then followed it up by allowing five runs in five innings to the Mets. The rest of September wasn’t that strong either, until he allowed only one run in six innings his last time out.
Interestingly enough, his last start in August 2010 and his first start of September 2010 were also iffy. Four runs in five innings followed by five runs (though just two earned in five innings). 2009 doesn’t quite complete the pattern, though his first start in September of that year was a six-run, five inning affair against the Pirates. He didn’t have that problem in 2008, but he also sat out a large portion of the summer.
All in all, this looks like a regular dead spot of the season for Wainwright. He can bounce back–he has before–but it’s rough to see when the race is so tight. This isn’t the way you’d like to see the rotation clicking before going into the playoffs, but then again it wasn’t really humming smoothly down the stretch in 2006 either and it seemed to work out OK.
The newest acquisition, John Axford, didn’t have a great day, but it’s not quite as bad as it looks in the box score. He allowed a double and a walk before giving way to Randy Choate, who came in to face two lefties….and promptly walked them both, forcing in a run charged to Axford. If Wainwright had kept the game even a tad bit closer, Choate would have gotten the Goat for that one.
Folks are getting beat up as the season winds down as well. Carlos Beltran was out with a tight back and Yadier Molina left early with a wrist injury. Both should be back tomorrow (maybe Wednesday for Molina, if they want to use this as a reason to rest him, but with a rookie pitcher, that might not be the best idea–then again, Rob Johnson did work with these guys in Memphis) but it’s just another indication that this season is taking its toll.
St. Louis turns to the rookie Michael Wacha today to see if they can’t stop the bleeding before it becomes dire. Wacha looked good in backing up Wainwright last time against the Reds, so we’ll see if they were able to get a book on him.
That’s all they’ve got to work with, so hopefully it turns out very similar to what it looked like last time.
Homer Bailey goes for the Reds. He shut down St. Louis pretty well last week, winning the only game Cincinnati took in Busch. He’s been hit or miss against the Redbirds in his career, though. He’s finally developing into a real pitcher, so I’d expect this one to be another tough outing.
Pittsburgh won yesterday, so they are up a game on St. Louis. Cincinnati is 2.5 behind the Cards, 3.5 behind the Pirates. Pittsburgh sends Gerrit Cole out against Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo, so there should be a chance that, if the Cardinals can right the ship, they can get back into a first-place tie. We’ll see!