Feldman: Wainwright always seems to come through when needed the most
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 7: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers batter at Miller Park on September 7, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images) By Adam McDonald
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 7: Matt Adams #32 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a sacrifice fly against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 7, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images) By Tom Lynn
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 7: Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches a complete game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 7, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images) By Tom Lynn
Baseball STL (KMOV.com) -- At this juncture in the regular season – with just 19 games to go – leading the Brewers by five games has to be considered nothing short of extraordinary. How have the Cardinals been able to pull off this over the last couple weeks?
October went from nothing but a slight possibility to a near certainly in a matter of days.
The one thing that was always right there in the back of the Cardinals minds, however, was Adam Wainwright. Yes, they were making a big run atop the division. Yes, the Brewers were helping them out by losing nine in a row between August 26th and September 4th leading into this crucial series.
But Wainwright, the unquestioned ace of the staff, just wasn’t himself. You could sense it as well in the swings hitters were taking against him since the All Star break. His ERA was abnormally out of whack (above four). So while things were good as far as the standings went, anyone who knows anything about the Cardinals also knew they would be significantly hindered in October if Wainwright wasn’t pitching like Wainwright.
Then Sunday afternoon happened in Milwaukee.
Facing a Brewers club that was staring at the difference between being three games back in the NL Central and five games back, Adam Wainwright came through with arguably his best performance of the season. It could not have come at a better time for his team.
The win A) pushed the Brewers back into 3rd place in the division, B) kept the Cardinals mojo rolling into Cincinnati and C) gave him the confidence that he is indeed the same pitcher as he was in the first half of the season. Everyone knew it. They just needed to see it to be reassured with just a couple more weeks before the regular season ends.
If the Cardinals have to go to Los Angeles and face the Dodgers – and Clayton Kershaw – in a best-of-five series things are going to have to go almost perfectly to come out of that with a victory. A struggling Adam Wainwright would only compound the challenge.
No one is saying the Redbirds ace is going to go on a run of epic proportions because of one simple start. But when one of your best and most valuable players isn’t playing like you know he can for more than just a tiny stretch a little reassurance that he’s fine is never a bad thing.