I’d hate to imagine where this team would be without its ace pitcher. He’s won two 1-0 games this season, plus a 3-0 to go along with last night’s 2-0 win. That’s four wins where the total runs equal seven, which is just barely enough to get you 50-cent drinks at On The Run. True, he’s had a couple of games where he had a good bit of run support, but it’s not the norm and, thankfully, it doesn’t matter. So often, just one is enough.
In eight of his 17 starts, the team has thrown a shutout. Twice he did it all by himself, the other times he left just a little for a bullpen that is getting better by the day. Waino’s not perfect, though in his last 10 games he’s put up a 1.70 ERA with a .504 OPS. And that includes his last game against the Giants, where he allowed seven runs in 4.1 innings. I know everyone is on the Clayton Kershaw bandwagon, and for good reason, but Wainwright can also stake a claim to the best pitcher in the NL title.
While Wainwright’s bat is pretty salty as well, he really can’t do it all alone. The Cards didn’t score much, they didn’t score often, but they scored and that’s all that was necessary.
Oscar Taveras led off the fourth with a double and, to my mind, that might have been one of the most exciting at bats a Cardinal hitter has had in a good long while. He hit the ball hard down the line and then used his speed to get into second standing up. We’ve not seen many balls hit with authority over the past few weeks, so seeing a stinging double plus watching him gallop into second was chicken soup for the Cardinal fan’s soul.
Of course, given this offense, people would be forgiven if their first thought after a leadoff double was “how are they going to mess this up?” And, indeed, the way things had been going, it’s a surprise that Mark Ellis‘s liner over the head of Joe Panik wasn’t speared and turned into a double play. It didn’t clear Panik’s leap by much, but it did enough. Singles by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday gave the Redbirds a crooked number, their first since Friday night. I wouldn’t want to guess when the last time was St. Louis got two RBI hits in the same frame. Colorado, I guess.
If Wainwright gets the Hero tag, and he should because duh (though Carpenter did get three hits, so he could–again–make a strong case) the Goat would go to Matt Adams. It was a toss up between Big Fill In The Blank and Allen Craig, but Adams had two strikeouts as part of his 0-4 and Craig didn’t. Adams was flailing last night, swinging at stuff that wasn’t even that close, it didn’t appear. After his power run in Colorado, he’s been a little quiet on the West Coast. Then again, who hasn’t been? In six games St. Louis has scored six runs, half of them in one game.
Interestingly enough, Joe Kelly isn’t quite ready to make his return to the big leagues. The issue appears to be that he doesn’t have a feel for his offspeed stuff yet, but I’m surprised that’s strong enough to keep him from returning, especially since the alternative is to run Marco Gonzales out there for another start. Then again, this gives Gonzales a chance to pitch in front of the home crowd, so that’s a benefit. Kelly better get ready in that next rehab start, though–the next turn after Sunday would be the opener against the Brewers in Miller Park. That’s going to be a big series for the Cardinals and I think they’d rather not throw Gonzales there if they had a choice.
A win today would send St. Louis back home with a little momentum before facing the Marlins over the holiday weekend. However, that could be a tall order given the fact they have to face Madison Bumgarner in the finale this afternoon. Bumgarner threw seven scoreless innings when the Giants were in Busch Stadium and has a 2.90 ERA on the season. He is coming off a rough outing against the Reds, where he allowed five runs in six innings, but that was easily his worst outing of the year and you can’t expect he’ll be off yet again.
There’s not a lot of hope in this historical numbers either. Jon Jay‘s done well against him and Carpenter had a nice game once, but that’s about it. Given the state of this offense, it looks like another shutout might be needed.
That’s a pretty tall order to hand to Carlos Martinez. While the dynamic young pitcher does have the stuff to go out there and shut down an offense, he’s also a bit erratic when it comes to results. This will be his fourth start, so there shouldn’t be any pitch limitations or the like on him, but Mike Matheny pulled him quickly last time and odds are, with a bullpen that is fairly rested, he won’t have any hesitation about yanking him if necessary in the mid innings.
The Giants haven’t seen much of Martinez at all, which should work in his favor if his stuff is working today. However, Martinez faced the club twice out of the bullpen earlier this season and gave up a combined four earned runs in 3.1 innings. A repeat of that and this will be a quick getaway game. Well, if it’s not quick, at least it’ll be decided early.
It’s good to get a win and break the scoreless skid. Now let’s see if they can’t put together a winning streak!