GAME 122: Complete Domination
Spinning just his fourth career shutout (although it was, admittedly, against Houston), Adam Wainwright immediately erased the lingering nightmares of Monday’s 19-inning butt rape with a masterful performance. Coupled with some unrelenting offense, the Cardinals (66-56) kept pace with Cincinnati while gaining a game in the wild card race.
FRONT OF THE LINE: Despite his meager-looking 12-10 record, I would say that Adam Wainwright is currently one of the most intimidating starters in baseball. He was been on an incredible string of starts over the last two months. During that stretch, Waino has an ERA of 2.00 and, pitching without solid offensive support, still posted a 5-2 record since July 1. Tonight, Waino tore through the Astros like they were wet pieces of origami paper: 9 innings, 12 strikeouts, and just six baserunners (5 hits, 1 walk). That is terrifying. Again, we’re talking about the Astros here, but this is easily onf of the best starts of Waino’s career. It’s also just what the team needed after Monday’s public spanking.
FOLLOW THE LEADER: Just wanted to point out an important aspect of what Wainwright accomplished tonight – he pitched a complete game, thereby allowing a tattered bullpen another day of rest after a tough and disappointing series loss to Pittsburgh. This is exactly the kind of take-charge attitude that true team leaders demonstrate in difficult times.
PROPER LEADOFF: I’m really liking Jon Jay in the leadoff spot. He’s been hitting over .300 in the lineup spot this month while Rafael Furcal deals with physical problems. Tonight, Jay was a sparkplug, going 3-5 with an RBI and a run scored. His first inning opposite field double in the first really set a tone, which is an important aspect of the leadoff hitter. I’m sure Furcal will eventually return to the leadoff spot, but Jay has shown the capacity to really be a difference-maker there as well.
GO YADI GO: Don’t look now, but our beloved Yadier Molina is now batting .321 after a 3-4 night, and is inching closer to the top of the average chart in the National League. I’m not even sure why we doubt Yadi after two seasons of hitting over .300. It just seems unbelievable that he would be such an offensive threat … that is, until you see him pulverize pitchers with his excellent command of the strike zone. My ultimate dream would be a Yadier Molina batting championship. It could happen this year if McCutchen ever cools off.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Waino.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Nobody. It is one of the crispest games of the year, and everybody had a part in it.
CONCLUSION: After 122 games, we know this – an amazing game like this one means nothing about tomorrow. This is the kind of game that feels inspirational, transcendent. We’ve had a few like that this season, only to be followed by borderline-incompetent baseball. I’m not getting my hopes up after this excellent win. We need a STREAK of such games, and it needs to happen RIGHT NOW.