With a Wainwright shut out game
And a Yadi Hug™
This weekend, the Cardinals are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the 2006 World Championship team. I know that team only won 83 games. I know they limped like Kaizer Soze into the playoffs. I know there were on and off-field rifts that shook the group's core. I know that David Eckstein really wasn't that good. But guess what? IDGAF because that was the first time the Cardinals won the World Series in my baseball-loving lifetime and it was the best. So I'm loving this celebration. I'm loving the stories from '06, I'm loving the Mark Mulder and Scott Rolen interviews, I'm loving that Aaron Miles seems to have completely let himself go, and I am especially loving that a very large number of '06 players and coaches took the time to make their way to St. Louis this weekend. If only we could have given them a sweep.
I digress. This was a really great game. This might have been my favorite game of the season. To start with, Adam Wainwright was dealing. And he was dealing to Yadier Molina. Did you guys know that is the same battery that got the final out of the 2006 World Series?! DID YOU?? Well it was, and there's basically no way you could have watched today's game and not have known that, even though I am sure you all already did because it's not really that hard to remember. So Wainwright looked great today. Good control, mixing pitches, throwing the curve for strikes - all that jazz that makes us say silly things like "you know, a healthy, effective Wainwright in the second half is like trading for an ace without giving up anything!" It really is.
The Cardinals' offense broke out in the third inning. Tommy Pham - who did well in the leadoff spot tonight - started the inning with a double. Aledmys Diaz walked, and Stephen Piscotty followed with a double to score him (from first!) and Pham. Randal Grichuk followed with a double of his own to score Piscotty. Matt Adams was the next hitter, and he laced a hit just over the infield to score Grichuk. By the time we came up for air, the score was 4-0 Cardinals.
Jhonny Peralta added to the lead in the fifth inning with a solo home run to make it 5-0 Redbirds, but one run was all Adam Wainwright needed. Wainwright took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Adeiny Hechavarria. Waino worked around that double getting the next three hitters to ground out and stranding the runner at third. Nearly the same thing happened in the seventh. A leadoff double to Christian Yelich proved meaningless as Wainwright struck out Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, then got Derek Dietrich on an infield pop up.
After the top of eighth, Wainwright had thrown 107 pitches and his spot was up in the bottom of the inning. As a student of the game, I thought that letting him hit for himself and presumably stay in to finish out the game was a bad idea. As a Cardinals fan who still vividly remembers jumping onto the couch in my crappy apartment and screaming at the top of my lungs, Tom Cruise-style, when Carlos Beltran watched that fateful curve ball drop.right.in, I got it. And I didn't hate it. And maybe a small but not insignificant piece of me actually FREAKING LOVED IT. Fandom is very deep and very complicated, and when you grew up as a kid who just wanted to watch the Cardinals play, it can be very difficult to balance nostalgia and pure love of the game with the knowledge that what's best for your heart isn't always what's best for your team.
Anyway, it worked out just fine. Wainwright got his complete game shutout and a standing ovation from both the fans and his former teammates, coaches, and managers. His final line: 9.0 IP, 0 R, 5 K, 3 H, 2 BB. That'll do, Waino; that'll do.
Michael Wacha takes the mound against Adam Conley in the rubber match tomorrow. Game starts at 1:15 CT.
[Editor's Note: WE STILL LOVE YOU, SCOTTY]