For at Least a Day, Wainwright Turns Back the Clock

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, September 17. In a performance that delighted Cardinals’ fans and shocked most others, Adam Wainwright struck out 9 Dodgers and led his team to a 5-0 win. The win tied the two teams for the National League’s second wild card spot.
Earlier this year I began to make a list for a fictitious award I called “The Steve Carlton You Stayed Too Long” award. The idea was born when I heard the Mets’ David Wright, who has played very few games since 2014 was considering yet another comeback. His run of injuries will end on Sept. 29, when both he and Jose Reyes (another Carlton award candidate) will both start on the left side of the Mets’ infield. Albert Pujols would be another candidate, along with CC Sabathia. Adam Wainwright could have been considered until his recent effective appearances, and yesterday’s outing against the Dodgers took him right off the Steve Carlton pretend award list.
The Dodgers certainly hoped to encounter a Wainwright whose sell date had long passed. They had a lead of one game and hoped to extend it. Wainwright, who turned 37 two weeks ago had other ideas. He pitched like a man who had won well over 60% of his games (148–84.) He brought back the Wainwright of 2010, 2013 and 2014 who had been chosen as an All-Star. He pitched like a man who 3 times was among the top 3 in Cy Young award voting. You could forget the Wainwright who had been troubled with arm injuries as early as 2004, lost a full season to Tommy John surgery in 2011 and was out most of the 2015 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. He was injured for a good portion of 2017 and most of this season. It seemed that a performance like he gave yesterday wouldn’t happen again. In 6 innings he struck out 9 Dodgers and kept them off the scoreboard. The Dodgers had hung 17 runs on the board against the Cardinals just the day before, but Wainwright stopped them cold.
Even the best pitching isn’t enough without the offense. Just ask Jacob DeGrom about that. Wainwright got the help every pitcher needs. Marcell Ozuna led off the home second inning with a home run. Two more runs scored in the 4th. Once Wainwright’s 6 innings were done, the bull pen held the fort.
The Houston bull pen nearly let down Justin Verlander after a sterling performance where he struck out 11. Facing the Arizona D-Backs he gave up just one run in 7 innings and the Astros had a 5–1 lead until a furious rally by the D-Backs brought it to 5-4, where the Snakes’ venom ran out.
Verlander is no kid. However, at age 35 he hasn’t dealt with the injuries that have slowed Wainwright and other older players. His ERA stands at 2.52 which would be the third-best in his career if the season ended today. In his league the only two lower ERA numbers belong to Chris Sale and Blake Snell. Verlander has pitched more innings than both of them. As of now he’s pitched the most innings of any American Leaguer and has the most strikeouts.
There are a few games including playoff contenders tonight. In Atlanta the Braves host the Cardinals. The visitors send out Miles Mikolas and his 15–4 record against Mike Foltynewicz for the first-place Braves. The Brewers host the Reds while the Mariners visit Houston. The Cubs and D-Backs meet in another matchup of teams who can expect to play in the postseason.


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