(BaseballStL) -- Since the Cardinals clinched the division on Friday, Adam Wainwright has known Game 1 of the National League Division Series is his start. He just didn’t know which team it would come against until the Pirates beat the Reds 6-2 on Tuesday night.
“I was excited to find out who I was going to be pitching against,” Wainwright said. “It's a pretty big game to watch, and I knew either way I was going to have my hands full. A very tough opponent either way.”
With the Pirates’ wild-card victory, Wainwright avoids another bout with the Reds -- a team that has beaten him more times than not. The difference between Wainwright facing the Pirates versus the Reds this season is clear:
In three starts versus Pittsburgh, Wainwright is 1-0 with a 3.00 earned-run average. Pirates batters hit only .208 against the Cardinals ace.
In four starts against Cincinnati, Wainwright finished 1-3 with a 7.77 earned-run average. The Reds batted .319 off him. The Reds also handed Wainwright the worst outing of his career on August 28. He lasted only two innings, but allowed nine runs on eight hits and two walks.
He was adamant that he didn’t prefer to face one team over the other.
“I've learned in my years you never ask for anyone because you've got to be careful what you ask for or you'll get a monster,” Wainwright said. “So watching the game, I had no motives for either one of them to win.”
Wainwright noted the August 28 loss to Cincinnati gave him extra motivation to face them again, which came in his next start. He allowed six runs over six innings in a 7-2 loss in Cincinnati on September 2. It was the second rough outing in a row and his last start against the Reds.
As for his success against the Pirates, Wainwright’s last start against Pittsburgh gave his team control of the NL Central with a 5-0 win on September 7. He hurled seven scoreless innings while allowing two hits and two walks. It also ended the streak of two consecutive poor outings, both against Cincinnati, for the right-hander.
“I stick with the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ because every team that's here now is very good. Every pitcher you're going to face is very good,” Mike Matheny said. “I'd put Adam Wainwright up against anybody regardless of history. He had a couple of tough, tough starts there, but, all in all a Cy Young-caliber season that we're not afraid to put him on the mound against anybody.”
Wainwright will get the first crack to slow down a streaking Pirates team that has won six of its last seven games. Game 1 is slated for 4:00 p.m. (St. Louis time) at Busch Stadium.
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals, Blues and Rams for KMOV.com and its associated mobile apps (BaseballStL, HockeyStL and FootballStL). You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and updates.