Game Report: Cardinals 4, Padres 1
By Rob Rains
It was something Adam Wainwright had been thinking about for a while and in a group text message to his teammates Sunday morning, he let them in on the plan.
As the Cardinals took the field at Busch Stadium, Wainwright came out of the dugout and stopped. His teammates preceded him onto the field as Wainwright pointed to the different corners of the stadium, cued the music and then strode to the mound.
“A little entrance,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do that. I’ve always dreamt about coming out on the field and cueing the music and getting the guys to run out in front of me. … It fired me up, that’s kind of what the goal of it was, get the crowd engaged.
“Nothing is cooler than when I used to watch Trevor Hoffman walk in the game, other than that you were losing, or some of those big closers – Smoltz, Kimbrel, Mariano, and get to see that. That’s a cool thing. It was fun.”
That was not the end of Wainwright’s fun on this day; only the beginning. He turned in a vintage performance as the Cardinals salvaged the final game of the series against the Padres.
For the first time since May 20, 2014, Wainwright had a start in which he worked at least six innings, did not allow more than one run, did not walk a batter and struck out at least nine. The only hit he allowed in the shutout that day was a double by now teammate Paul Goldschmidt.
Since that day nearly five years ago, Wainwright had made 91 starts – and none were as good as this one.
It came after he struggled in his season debut last week in Pittsburgh and nearly a year after he had multiple games in which he wondered if the end of his career was getting closer.
It didn’t look that way on Sunday, which was also part of Wainwright’s pre-game plan.
“I knew coming into today I needed to be in a better place mentally and when I am good mentally I’m usually pretty good physically too,” Wainwright said. “I was just trying to give myself a better chance to succeed by being very focused and throwing good pitches.
“That’s the way you are going to see me the rest of the year. To get the most out of my ability I’m always going to be on the verge of fist pumping strike two calls. That’s where I need to be mentally, so that’s where I’m going to be.”
Wainwright also got to experience a career first on Sunday – pitching against Fernando Tatis Jr., nearly nine years after he also faced his dad, Fernando Tatis Sr. Wainwright struck out Tatis Sr. on April 18, 2010, when he was with the Mets in the final year of his major-league career.
Wainwright faced Tatis Jr. twice on Sunday, striking him out in the first at-bat and getting a fly ball to center on the second at-bat, which turned into a double play
That helped create the positive vibes Wainwright felt before, during and after his start. It’s why the chip on his shoulder, trying to prove this was not the last time he can pitch this way, will remain right where it is.
“I am pitching with renewed confidence that I can go out and pitch well,” Wainwright said. “I’m trying not to listen to any of the other stuff. As soon as I see anything negative on social media from any media person I block them right away. I don’t need that.
“I’m not going to let that happen anymore. Hopefully the takeaway from today is the guy who I am now is not the guy I was at the beginning of last season.”
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: Paul DeJong doubled in two runs in the fourth after Matt Carpenter walked and Goldschmidt reached on an error … Carpenter’s sacrifice fly increased the lead to 3-1 in the seventh and a bunt single by Kolten Wong with two outs in the eighth added the insurance run … Yadier Molina had three hits after his first two-hit game of the year on Saturday … Goldschmidt was 0-of-3 with a walk and now has just one hit, a home run, in his last 19 at-bats … Dexter Fowler was 0-of-3 as his average fell to .160 (4-of-25) … The team had a season-low six strikeouts.
On the mound: Wainwright allowed five hits over his 100-pitch outing. The only Padres run came on a single by Eric Hosmer in the third on a 3-2 pitch after the Cardinals thought he had struck out on a checked swing but did not get the call. Four of San Diego’s five hits off Wainwright were doubles … John Brebbia, Andrew Miller and Jordan Hicks combined to cover the final three innings with the key at-bat coming when Hicks struck out Manny Machado on a 3-2 slider to end the eighth inning before earning his first save, getting two more strikeouts in the ninth.
Key stat: Two streaks ended on Sunday as Wainwright became the first Cardinals starter to win a game this season, in their ninth game. Only once since World War II had the Cardinals played the first nine games of the year without getting a win from a starter (1997, when they started 2-7). Also, it was the first time this year the Cardinals did not allow a home run. The eight consecutive games allowing at least one homer tied the second longest streak to open a season (1958).
Worth noting: Giovanny Gallegos and Tyler Webb were recalled from Memphis as the Cardinals added an eighth reliever to the roster before Sunday’s game. Alex Reyes and Yairo Munoz were sent to the Triple A club, although Munoz could be brought back for the two games the Cardinals will play next weekend in Mexico. The team can add a 26th player for those games because of the international travel. Manager Mike Shildt said he told Munoz he was the odd-man out for the roster move because “we’re using the bullpen more than you and you happen to be the victim of it.” … The Cardinals want Reyes to throw multiple innings out of the bullpen while in Triple A on a “structured” schedule.
Looking ahead: The Dodgers come to twon for the only time this season, beginning a four-game series on Monday night. Miles Mikolas gets the start, and will be followed in the series by Dakota Hudson, Jack Flaherty and Michael Wacha.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
By Mike Reeves
Interviews from after the Cardinals win over San Diego on Sunday at Busch Stadium:
Mike Shildt, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina