(BaseballStL) -- Adam Wainwright's start versus Cincinnati showed us two things. Number one...just how far he's come. And number two...exactly how much farther he needs to go to get back to where he was before Tommy John surgery ruined his 2011 season.
For 6 innings at Great American Ballpark Waino was as bueno as we all remembered him. The fastball had life. He was locating. The curve ball was keeping hitters off balance. It was an art form watching Wainwright pitch.
The Reds really didn't stand a chance.
Then the 7th inning happened.
Cincy put up 3 runs and took a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Granted, Allen Craig's error on a slow ground ball scored a couple and made things look worse statistically than they really were. But the first couple batters Wainwright faced that innings (Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce) saw a combined 9 pitches. 5 were balls and 2 were roped for singles.
Watching Wainwright pitch that inning you could see his stuff didn't have that same life it did in the first 6 frames. The location wasn't there either. And that's the next (and possibly final) step for him in his journey.
At his best, Adam Wainwright was a starter and a closer all in the same game. No, he wouldn't always pitch 9 innings. But when he was getting close to 100 or 110 pitches and it was time to take him out...he had the ability to reach back and make a pitch to get him out of a jam, out of an inning and hand things over to the bullpen on his terms.
Not on the manager's terms because runs were scoring and he needed to stop the bleeding.
To start 2012 Wainwright wasn't able to make a pitch like that in the 1st inning let alone the 7th. Well, we can see how far he's come from that. In a pretty big series against a division rival Wainwright was terrific through 6.
The 7th was another matter.
He's getting close. But he's not there quite yet.