(BaseballStL) — Adam Wainwright pulled no punches Monday night when reviewing his high wire act against the Pirates.
“I felt like I had the command of an A-ball pitcher out there today,” he said. “It was pretty grindy, out of sorts with my delivery.”
He struggled with his control from the beginning of the game, and dealt with at least one runner in all seven innings. Four times, he had the leadoff man on. Somehow, he got the Pirates to strand all nine runners that made it aboard against him.
“I told him this and he looked at me kind of funny as you will too, but I said I thought this was one of his best games,” Mike Matheny said. “He had to make things happen. To watch him do that just with heart and his mind and try to figure ways to get guys out when he didn’t have much for him.”
Wainwright said it was apparent early on his fastball had a mind of its own, forcing him to lean heavily on his signature curveball to get out of jams.
“That pitch got better as we went,” he said of his hook. “My fastball command was very shoddy all night long. I was effectively wild, actually. I got some outs not normally where I’d try to throw it but it worked. There were some accidental holes I was exploiting when I was trying to attack another spot.”
As the Cardinals were seemingly swinging whiffle ball bats, Wainwright continued to survive on the mound. He had three innings in which he tossed more than 20 pitches, something uncharacteristic of the typically efficient St. Louis ace. Still, he maintained in command of a game that was seemingly always on the verge of careening out of control.
“I never admit it’s going to be grind until afterward,” he said, explaining that once a pitcher does that, he risks expecting to make mistakes.
There were plenty of opportunities for them.
The Pirates had men in scoring position four times, and all four plate appearances for former MVP Andrew McCutchen against Wainwright came with a man aboard.
“A couple times I had tough situations where I walked somebody or gave up a hit to get to McCutchen with runners on the bases,” the 32-year-old pitcher said. “I hit Marte there (in the seventh). It was a terrible pitch, and set it up with McCutchen again. It’s not a real good plan.”
The center fielder never reached base, and in fact ended the inning three times.
Wainwright’s pitch count would be his undoing, as he exited with 112 pitches, seven hits and five strikeouts. He walked three and hit a batter, also tossing in a wild pitch.
He made it seven innings, the ninth time he’s hit that threshold without giving up a run this season.
Even with what felt like an omnipresent threat of runs, the three-time All Star dropped his NL-best ERA to 1.79.
Whether he agreed with Matheny’s assessment or not, Wainwright was able to smile and say he took some positives form the game.
“I should be good for next start. I got plenty of work out of the stretch, I should be polished on that,” he said slyly.
His next start is set for Saturday in Milwaukee against the Brewers. As of Monday night, they hold a four game lead in the division.