PITTSBURGH (BaseballStL) - He’s not pitching well and he knows it. And he wants it to be clear that it has nothing to do with who is catching him. “It’s all on me,” said Adam Wainwright after another gritty but sub-par performance by the Cardinals’ ace in a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Wainwright pitched out of and around trouble in nearly every inning after the first but kept the Cardinals in the game. But an anemic offense was no match for Jeff Locke, who baffled Cardinal hitters all afternoon. “(Locke) went back and forth (in the strike zone), with fastballs in late counts to freeze our hitters,” said skipper Mike Matheny.
For the day, the Redbirds hit into 15 ground ball outs and never mounted a serious threat.
Wainwright, meanwhile, battled to keep his team in the game. His line (six innings, eight hits, three earned runs, one walk, five strikeouts) was not indicative of the trouble he was in for most of the afternoon.
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In the second, he hit Russell Martin and then surrendered a home run to Ike Davis, his second in two nights. “I threw him a cutter down. That’s the honey hole for a left-hander. I needed to get that up around his hands,” he said.
In the third, the Pirates loaded the bases on three straight singles, but Wainwright limited the damage to a sacrifice fly by Andrew McCutcheon. In the fifth, the Bucs again loaded the bases on three singles but Davis lined out to Daniel Descalso at second to end the threat.
Wainwright acknowledged the game could have gotten away from him in either of those innings. But he said he was able to keep his club in the ballgame. “I’m going to battle until everything is back in place. I’m close. I take pride in the fact that I’m still getting through those innings and keeping us in the game.”
Matheny said Wainwright had good rhythm and tempo in the first inning when the Pirates went in order. But then, he said, he noticed some balls “flying” a little bit, indicating a lack of command. “He’s still fighting, still finding ways to keep us in the game. He’s a warrior,” Matheny said.
“I felt great in that first inning,” Wainwright agreed. “It was the best I felt in a month. I felt locked in for a moment there and that’s the positive I’ll take away from this outing.”
But after that first inning, the Cards’ leading game-winner struggled, surrendering eight hits and leaving runners stranded almost every inning. “It’s not pretty but I’m finding ways to get outs. I know that when I come out of this I’ll be better and stronger for it. “
Matheny said that no one on any club is at the peak of physical and mental health at this point in the long season. Wainwright acknowledged that being in constant trouble in most of his last several starts takes a mental toll, but dismissed mental fatigue as an issue.
He also very clearly dispelled the notion that All-Star catcher Yadier Molina’s absence in any way has contributed to his struggles. “My pitches would be the same no matter who is back there.”