Waino Was Bueno In Win Over Padres

That, according to Jason Motte, who had it easy watching his teammate’s shutout from the bullpen Tuesday night.

As for me, can I finally say, “Welcome back Adam!?”

Happy Waino = Happy Cardinal Nation! (Click the photo to watch the full interview)

Before you jump me, I know it was the Padres. The 28th-place offense, .218-hitting Padres; the third-most, 358-strikeout Padres. That doesn’t exactly lend itself to much of a challenge for anything close to “vintage Waino.”

But … can we just for a second recognize what Wainwright did do, struggling hitters or not?

He tossed his first shutout since August 6, 2010.

He struck out nine, walked one and gave up just four hits on 111 pitches. In the process, he dropped his season ERA from 5.77 to 4.78. Plus, he saved a weary bullpen from any kind of work, which may be one of the most significant things about his night.

He got a little help from his defense on occasion. Matt Holliday (yeah, the not-so-great-fielder we’ve heard so much about lately!) made a nice sliding catch in short left field that led to doubling up the runner returning to first, for example. 

But, in listening to Wainwright after the game, this night was more significant than the final score.

“I think that might be the best feeling I’ve ever had pitching,” he said in the locker room after the game. “I think it was mind set,” he added, talking about what was different Tuesday than earlier in the season.

He talked about attacking hitters, going after guys early, and not watching the scoreboard or counting down the innings. For those who’ve mentioned his mechanics, he explain an adjustment to his arm slot this week that has him feeling back to normal.

But more than that, he talked about the emotion of this game, knowing the journey it’s been — it’s been more than a year since he could have felt that good on the mound — and how much relief he felt at being “back.”

Sure, his next start will be more telling. Facing stronger offensive teams could still be a challenge. But what Adam needed was a confidence boost. A reason to believe he still has the stuff he always believed would return.

Guess what, kids? He’s still got it. Look out, baseball world!

Now, the Redbirds offense didn’t really show a ton of pop. Holliday and Carlos Beltran each had two hits, but the club managed just four runs on six total hits against the same struggling club that helped Waino pitch a shutout. The Cardinals were still just 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Tyler Greene did add an RBI, making his season total 11.

Still more significant, though, even than that? The apparent inability to rid the clubhouse of the pesky injury bug!

Today’s casualty: Matt Carpenter.

After hitting a double in the first inning, he gimped into second base and was immediately removed from the game. From all appearances, it was an oblique injury that occurred on the swing. We all know how long that can keep a guy out of the game. Officially, it was called “right side tightness,” and Daniel Descalso took his place, playing third while David Freese got the day off.

After the game, Carpenter said he was leaning toward it not being an oblique, thanks to a helpful chat with guys like Lance Lynn and Skip Schumaker who have first-hand knowledge of oblique injuries.

Fingers crossed he’s right!

With we not-so-patiently wait for the bumps and bruises to heal, it may become very valuable to have Adam Wainwright “back.” Is he really? Only time will tell.

What I do know is, this was just the “feel good” game Cardinal Nation needed.

The series finale starts tonight at 7:15 with Lance Lynn going for win No. 7 against former Cardinal Jeff Suppan, who is 2-2 on the year with an even 3.00 ERA.


Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.

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