CHICAGO — In the Windy City finale Sunday, Adam Wainwright takes the hill hoping to rebound from his uncharacteristically brief start against Tampa Bay.
The Cardinal ace made it 4.2 innings while surrendering four earned runs (six total) on six hits. After the game, Wainwright watched game film from three different starts and compared them to his rough Rays outing, hoping to find what limited him from success.
He said he identified mechanical issues, something Mike Matheny said is a thorough and exhaustive process.
“You start with your foundation, you start with your base, and work your way up to find out what’s keeping you from repeating,” he said. Wainwright has been one of the league’s best at making those adjustments, often correcting course during his start. It’s inspired not only tremendous performance, but high praise from his manager.
“The discipline and mental toughness he has is really on a level that not many can keep up with,” Matheny said. “They show it maybe for a game or two, but to do it how long he’s done it and how well he does it throughout a season is really extraordinary.”
Wainwright is perhaps a victim of his own reputation at times, as that level of reliability carries with it tremendous expectations. He has only gone less than five innings twice on the season, and seven times since 2010. When a guy has gone five or more 95 percent (7 out of 119 starts) of the time, that other five percent stands out.
“I think the same sort of thing happens with our club too,” Matheny said. “You’ve had some success, you have high expectations and any blip on the screen really is magnified.”
Catching Wainwright in his return to the hill will be newest Cardinal A.J. Pierzynski. Coming off a complete game behind the plate Saturday in which he went 3-for-4 at the plate, the 17-year veteran will get the nod in the finale.
Between the two, there’s parts of 26 combined years in the major leagues. Players who have that level of experience often their own way of doing business. While it may seem like two seasoned players could have difficulty acquiescing to one another, Matheny said it’s rarely the case.
“I think most likely it’s the opposite direction. Two guys who have been around awhile, understand what it takes, I would think that would be the case. They would be able to get on the same page a little quicker than maybe a young player and a veteran or two young players,” he said.
Pierzynski had no trouble getting on the same page with Shelby Miller Saturday, as the two worked through 5.2 innings en route to a 6-3 win.