(BaseballStL) — It was a tale of two starts for Adam Wainwright. Through four innings, he looked unhittable. Well, nearly.
Apart from Seth Smith’s single, the Cardinal ace was dominant. Five strikeouts, one hit and no free passes on just 51 pitches. Then his sterling start got scuffed.
“The first three innings today were great and after that it was a grind,” he said. “It’s been a grind for over a month now, I’m about ready for it to end. I think you go through stretches like that sometimes in a season. This is the opposite of how I felt early in the season, especially the whole first half.”
With one out in the fourth, the Padres figured out their sticks. Three straight one-out singles from Jake Goebbert, Will Venable and Alexi Amarista broke the spell and after a second out, Yangervis Solarte sent a second Friar home to make it 5-2.
“There were stretches today where I felt very good, especially early on it was clicking and I was throwing the ball where I wanted to,” Wainwright said. “There were stretches later on where the ball was rolling in there and they got some hits on some curveballs and cutters that normally wouldn’t roll in there like that.”
The inning ended and up until two outs in the sixth, that appeared to be the extent of the damage. Then, Jedd Gyorko continued his recent run off success, notching a two-out hit to keep the inning going.
Goebbert struck again, tripling down the line to score another run then trotting home when Kolten Wong’s relay throw went into the seats behind third.
“We’re going to have those mistakes from time to time, especially when we are talking about younger players,” Mike Matheny said. Wong would rebound to make a game-saving play in the ninth, keeping a level head on a ball that Matt Adams knocked down and backing him up for the second out of the final inning.
“We’re all professionals here. We all know the plays we should make and shouldn’t make,” Wainwright said, addressing the errant throw in the sixth. “If a play happens here or doesn’t happen there, we’re professionals. You can’t walk around apologizing or have your head down all the time.”
The big righty would stay in the game and hit for himself in the bottom of the inning, laying down a sacrifice bunt to set up a two-run double from Matt Carpenter.
He finished seven innings in 111 pitches and the Cardinals hung on to give him his 15th win.
It was another in a string of hard-fought victories for the ace, who has been struggling to get his delivery in synch. Even his most reliable weapon was hot and cold Sunday, something that made the final few innings laborious.
“My curveball today was either good or bad. I was pulling off of it all day long. I had some strikeouts early with my curveball but I also threw some three feet outside,” he said. “I’m usually much more consistent than that with that pitch.”
Wainwright said he feels physically fine, emphasizing that he’s still energized on the mound but still working toward getting everything to snap back into place.
“That little extra pop on the end of the ball hasn’t been there and it’s not there yet. There were times today where I could feel it click with the timing of everything and my balance and everything was going to the plate. There were other times where it was not even close to being right,” he said. “The way we are as professional athletes if we keep grinding and working between starts, one of these times we’re going to go out there and it’s just going to click.”
Despite being out of rhythm the last month, Wainwright once again sits atop the MLB wins leaderboard. He joins Johnny Cueto with 15, one ahead of Clayton Kershaw, Wily Peralta and Max Scherzer.