Wednesday’s Game Report: Wainwright helps Cardinals earn doubleheader split
By Rob Rains
The text message Yadier Molina sent Adam Wainwright after the Cardinals’ blowout loss to the Brewers on Tuesday night was not focused on that game, but instead looked ahead to the one Wainwright would pitch on Wednesday.
“Biggest game of the year tomorrow,” Molina said, repeating one of Wainwright’s standard phrases about every game he pitches.
“I thought this guy, is he going to leave the X-ray room and catch the next day?” Wainwright said.
Maybe Molina knew there might be something more at stake than in other Wainwright starts, considering what had happened Tuesday night, the Cardinals spot in the standings and the dwindling number of days left in the season.
That was why it was not surprising that two things happened – Wainwright turned in another clutch performance and Molina found his way into the starting lineup despite being hit on his left hand by a swinging bat less than 24 hours earlier.
“The first thing when I woke up this morning was I looked at the lineup on our app and I just started laughing as soon as I saw his (Molina’s) name in there,” Wainwright said. “He’s definitely the toughest person I’ve ever met in my life. All the blows he’s taken and he keeps getting back up.
“He never ceases to amaze me with the toughness level he has. He took a full swing off the wrist. My wrist probably would have been in 12 different pieces. His catching hand too. I just imagine every time he caught a ball it can’t feel good. Nowadays you see him and it’s almost like pain makes him laugh. He’s reached a different level of toughness.”
The 4-2 win for the Cardinals gained even more importance when the Brewers came back in game two, posting a 6-0 victory.
“I really believe it when I tell guys, ‘biggest game of the year tomorrow,’” Wainwright said. “I believe it every time I pitch.
“If you treat a start like today different than any other start you aren’t treating your other starts with enough importance. Every time I take the mound I feel like the team needs me to go deep.”
Wainwright pitched his second complete game of the year, albeit a seven-inning game, allowing only four hits, two of which came in the first inning.
The loss in game two dropped the Cardinals into a virtual tie with the Reds for second place in the NL Central with both teams one game ahead of the Brewers.
Here is how the games broke down:
At the plate: Tyler O’Neill homered and added a sacrifice fly in the first game and Brad Miller hit his team-leading seventh homer of the season … Justin Williams was added to the roster as the 29th man for the doubleheader and got his first major-league hit in his second game; he had previously played one game with Tampa Bay … The Cardinals were held to just two hits in the second game, a first-inning single by Paul DeJong and an infield single by Tommy Edman in the third. Their only other baserunners came on two walks and their final 15 batters were retired in order, 10 by strikeouts.
On the mound: The only runs Wainwright allowed came on a home run by Keston Hiura, on an 0-2 pitch, in the first inning. After that Wainwright allowed only two singles and walked one, retiring 20 of the last 23 hitters he faced, striking out nine … The key out was when he retired Christian Yelich on a ground ball with runners on first and second to end the fifth … In the second game, Ryan Braun hit a three-run homer off Johan Oviedo In a four-run first inning and Oviedo gave up another two-run homer in the sixth. Oviedo also hit three batters, prompting a warning to both benches from the umpires.
Key stat: Since the Cardinals resumed play after their 17-day layoff following the COVID-19 outbreak, Wainwright has started seven games and the team has gone 5-2 in those starts. All five wins came in a game that followed a Cardinals’ loss.
Worth noting: Manager Mike Shildt was suspended for one game and fined an undisclosed amount by MLB for leaving the dugout in Tuesday night’s game. Shildt served the suspension in the second game of the doubleheader … In a series of roster moves before the first game, the Cardinals optioned Lane Thomas and Nabil Crismatt to the satellite camp and recalled Max Schrock and Junior Fernandez from that camp; both were already with the team on the taxi squad. Thomas has been struggling since he came back from COVID-19, with just four hits in 33 at-bats … Rob Kaminsky was designated for assignment because the Cardinals needed that roster spot for Oviedo. If he clears waivers he will be assigned to the satellite camp … Dexter Fowler, on the injured list because of a stomach ailment, is feeling better and ramping up baseball activities, making the team more optimistic that he will be able to return before the end of the regular season … The Cardinals announced that their spring training schedule for next season will run from Feb. 27 to March 28 in Jupiter. Ticket information will be announced at a later date.
Looking ahead: Dakota Hudson will get the start on Thursday as the Cardinals open a five-game series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains