The first three games in this past weekend’s Cardinals-Dodgers series brought along some dread for Sunday’s final contest, which matched Adam Wainwright against an LA squad which scored just under 120 runs the previous three days.
That’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. How would Wainwright — who finished last Monday’s return start strong, but also struggled — do against Yasiel Puig (0-for-3 Sunday) and company? Pair this with the fact the Cards desperately needed the Wainwright of old to be a stopper for them and keep them in an National League Wild Card spot, and one didn’t know what to think.
And then Waino made us all wonder what we were doing doubting him, posting nine strikeouts on two walks and no earned runs through six innings, and doing so with ol’ Uncle Charlie working for him throughout. This last fact wasn’t lost on Cards announcer Dan McLaughlin, who talked Wainwright’s outing on his weekly visit with ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show.’
“That curveball was just sensational; a pitch that’s defined him throughout his career, obviously, and it was one that carried him through last night, but he did have a decent enough velocity that maintained from the start,” McLaughlin said.
Asked if he believes Wainwright can duplicate Sunday night’s magic, Danny Mac was encouraged, but admitted anything could happen.
“The thing I noticed last night was that I didn’t see as much diminished velocity as in his first start,” McLaughlin said. “If he’s got a fastball that’s around, let’s say 91 or 92 [MPH], and I think like 93.8 was like the highest that he hit…If he can get to that range and maintain it with the curveball that he had last night, there is no reason to think that he cannot be effective.
“Can he do it again? Sure. Why not? Could he have an outing where the velocity dips? Absolutely. I think that could happen, too. I think anything at this point is on the table,” he added. “I wonder if in his first start he was so emotionally charged up that maybe he just kind of ran out of gas after that second or third inning. I think that’s something that could be logical as an explanation for the dip [in velocity].”
No diminished expectations
Even with Wainwright’s stellar performance, the fact remains the Dodgers tied the Cardinals for the second wild card with just 12 games to go as of this writing, and nine against current playoff teams. Should fans let this diminish their 2018 October dreams?
McLaughlin listed the Dodgers’ relative inconsistency as reason not to get dreary.
“I look at that lineup of the Dodgers and wonder, ‘Why are they fighting for a wild card? How have they not run away with the NL West?’…It’s just a talented group that has not come together. So, did it temper my expectations? No,” he said.
“It just kind of happened at the inopportune time to drop three of four, but you pick up, you move on and that’s baseball. I thought Mike Shildt made a valid point; he’s like, ‘Well, we won the season series,’ and they did. They took four out of seven [against the Dodgers].”
Which leaves what will hopefully be a fun two weeks ahead. You can hear all of Danny Mac’s 101 ESPN visit below, and don’t forget to check back for plenty of Cardinals talk as the regular season winds down.