(Busch Stadium) Technically, the 2-0 victory over Colorado on Wednesday was his fourth win, but Adam Wainwright maintains he is now 1-o on the season.
“I told you all after Anaheim, I was starting over and so this is a new season for me,” he explained. “That other junk that I went through, it all led me to where I’m at right now and I’m going to keep going for it.”
That junk was an 0-3 start and the search to find an elusive “next gear” on a consistent basis to return to form as one of the elite pitchers in baseball. Staying focused on a process and making adjustments for Wainwright have allowed for that return, rather than a need to create a new one.
“I had to change back to the way I used to pitch–I used to be a pretty good pitcher,” he smiled. “Why change away from that?”
It took Wainwright a couple of games to identify what the mechanical issues were, but over the last few starts he has been able to focus on the execution and felt it all come together tonight even as he was warming up.
“I think it’s just a culmination of things we’ve been doing this whole year,” he explained. “We’ve continued to build my leg strength. We’ve continued to make little adjustments to my delivery and I’ve continued to stay positive. When you stay positive through all that–even when you’re struggling, you stay positive, a lot of good things can come of that.
“There’s a lot of lessons I learned going through all that process. When I was sitting there 0-3, I could’ve very easily said I need to win the next 12 games. But the thing I control is making one pitch at a time and winning that first game, then that second game, and making one pitch at a time and winning that third game. Now we’re 4-3 and I’ve just gotta keep making pitches. I’ve gotta stay right where I’m and stay focused and keep making pitches.”
This was the sort of performance both Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals had been looking for–6.2 innings of scoreless pitching, his longest scoreless outing since September of 2014.
So is this enough to put the stake in the ground or raise a flag to make the proclamation that Wainwright is now officially back?
“I don’t know if ‘he’s back’ is the right thing to say,” qualified Wainwright before breaking out into a smile to declare, “I’m dangerous, you can say that.”
–The shutout was the third of the season for the Cardinals, but only the first time they beat a team in 2016 when scoring fewer than three runs in a game.
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI