Welcome to May, Adam Wainwright. Have some runs!
Tuesday night, Wainwright was looking for his first win — and his first run in support. He got both, as the Cardinals took down the Pirates 10-7. And while the victory is sweet, it wasn’t as seamless as it could have been.
The Cardinals took an early lead, thanks to Pirates’ error number one (of what would be four on the night). But if we’ve seen anything from Wainwright thus far, it’s that consistency is one thing that isn’t quite up to par.
He pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, then gave up a leadoff double and a homerun in the third. He’s not making a lot of bad pitches. He just leaves one hanging around the middle of the plate every now and then. Big-league hitters are going to make him regret that.
Another thing to regret?
Bases loaded for David Freese in the bottom of the third … and nothing to show for it. Credit Charlie Morton for making good pitches, but it’s hard to see that opportunity go to waste.
Fortunately, Freese made up for it later.
Meanwhile, Yadier Molina casually stole his third base of the year — a move that allowed him to score on Pittsburgh error number two. Who doesn’t love a little small ball to swing the momentum back in your favor, right?
After than, the hits started rolling in. It turned into something of a homerun derby, in fact, started by Mr. Freese himself. With Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran aboard, David absolutely mashed one to right center field, giving the Cardinals — and Wainwright — the lead back.
Just-activated Allen Craig wanted in on the fun, so he singled home Molina who scored for the second time.
With a four run lead at 6-2, things were looking mighty fine. So why not keep ’em coming? Matt Holliday (who, thankfully, seems to be seeing the ball better and better every day) left the park in the sixth. Now, not only did Wainwright have some run support, he was now out of grand-slam-tie territory.
Good thing, too. Since he gave up another two-run homer in the next inning.
Waino did have six strikeouts and just one walk in seven innings, so there is improvement in his command. It’s just a matter of eliminating those big mistakes on a more consistent basis. And while it’s frustrating to see a game go from easily in hand to frighteningly close, it’s nice to see progress. This kind of comeback isn’t as easy as Wainwright would like for it to be. For now, I’m willing to be patient.
Especially when things like a Molina/Craig double steal that causes and error and scores a run happen. That always makes those Pittsburgh homeruns sting a little less!
Yep, you read that right. Molina and Craig, double steal, resulting in a run. That’s run number three on the night for Molina, if you’re keeping track at home.
And hey, while we’re doing this “scoring runs” thing, let’s get Rafael Furcal his first homerun of the year, shall we?
Ten runs on 13 hits is a great way to get Wainwright his first win.
… but it couldn’t actually be that easy! Not in a Cardinal win. Oh, no. There had to be some theatrics late in the game for any of it to count. Right?
Not to worry! This game’s heart-stopping inning brought to you by Fernando Salas.
Two quick outs were followed by two quick walks. Then, a trio of singles made the comfortable 10-4 lead much less comfortable at 10-7.
Jason “The Closer” Motte gave up one base hit in the ninth, but after that, it was classic “straight heat,” making Alex Presley and Jose Tabata look completely overmatched with 98 and 97 mile per hour fastballs.
It may not have been the prettiest win, but it was a win — and they all count just the same!
This team is built to score runs, and that they did. Sure, we’d like them to have seven run leads from start to finish, but as good as this team seems to be, they’re going to make their mistakes, too. It’s harder to watch the trouble innings when we know how flawlessly things can go. But, at the end of the day, it’s another Cardinals winner.
Plus, we saw Wainwright’s first win, Molina’s third and fourth steals, Craig’s 2012 debut, Furcal’s first homer, and Motte’s fourth save. Throw in a couple long-balls from the middle of the lineup, and I call that a good night.
The Cardinals are now 15-8 with a 3.5 game lead over Cincinnati in the NL Central.
Tonight, Lance Lynn tries to keep the ball rolling as he goes head-to-head with A.J. Burnett. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15.
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.