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4.5.18 Recap - Waino struggles, DBacks take game one

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The image of Adam Wainwright starting a home opener was nice. The reality wasn’t especially.

Recaps! We continue to do them. And after a year off of doing them regularly, I will do them regularly again. One notable change since I was last doing them regularly is that now I have a two-year-old, and it’s often my responsibility to get him to bed, and also he has decided in the last couple weeks that 8:00 is his bedtime instead of 7:00, so... we’ll see! Maybe my recaps will be bad, but I’ll try hard for them to be good.

Here’s one for tonight’s game.

The Lineup

Jedd Gyorko’s on the DL and with a LHP starting for Arizona — Robbie Ray, who is quite good — Yairo Munoz got the call over lefty hitters Greg Garcia and Kolten Wong. Okay, fine. Adam Wainwright returned from the DL to start the home opener because he is a franchise icon, he’s apparently healthy, and of course he did.

The Diamondbacks started Ray and some guys. Some of the guys are good and some aren’t. None are St. Louis Cardinals, though one used to be and others could have been.

The Game

Adam Wainwright is one of my favorite players ever. I’m 34. I got into the Cardinals as a teenager, not long after my family moved to Illinois from Nebraska — my interest in the team began sometime in the late 1990s, I can’t exactly remember. Matt Morris and Albert Pujols were my first favorite players. Adam Wainwright was the first prospect I was ever excited about. And when he was an instrumental player in an improbable championship run soon after I graduated from college, he got his hooks into me real good. The team had been so good and had seemed to miss its window, but then suddenly it made up for it. And he was the guy on the mound when that happened. I am and always will be a fan.

12 years have passed. I’m still a fan. I’m a lot better at a lot of things than I used to be, but also a lot less physically skilled. So is he, but his profession is about being physically skilled. He’s also in the last year of his contract. Many words will be written about Adam Wainwright this year. I will write, I’d guess, a few thousand. For now, for the purposes of this recap, I’ll limit them to facts about the game, and a single editorial remark.

Adam Wainwright didn’t pitch well tonight. It likely didn’t cost the team the game — they only scored one, and it’s hard to win when you only score one — but he looked, frankly, bad. His curveball was the only thing that worked. He nibbled around the zone with everything else, which, yeah — nothing else was getting any weak contact. He walked more guys than he struck out. Lots of the outs he did get were loud. He gave up three runs in four innings, and it easily could have, and probably should have, been more. He pitched poorly.

Here’s the one editorial comment: I don’t have a firm basis for this, yet, and won’t pretend I do. But I’m terribly afraid they need to take Adam Wainwright’s role away from him, and I’m terribly sad to say it. Now I’ll move on.

The Diamondbacks got those three runs in four innings off Wainwright. How they got them seems somehow inconsequential. Here is how they got them: Adam Wainwright pitched badly. Many men reached base. Many men hit the ball hard. In combination, these things led to three runs scoring in four innings. The specifics are much less important than the generalizations, really. Arizona jumped out to a lead because St. Louis had a pitcher on the mound who couldn’t stop a major league offense from doing that. The end.

Meanwhile, the real story of the game ought to be Robbie Ray. He had a bad first start this year (three homers allowed against the Rockies) but he’s really quite good, and he was quite good tonight. In 2017 he allowed a sub-.200 batting average against him. He does walk a lot of guys, which is what keeps him from being elite, but he also strikes a lot of guys out and is just tough to square up.

Ray’s line tonight was 6 IP, 5 BB, 9 K, 2 H, 1 ER. It’s a very Robbie Ray line. If you want to be mad at the Cardinals for not hitting him better, okay, go ahead, but he was good. He threw a pretty firm fastball combined with a weird spectrum-y breaking ball (is it a slider? a curveball? the answer is: sometimes) and it worked. It’s disappointing, but also you just have to tip your cap sometimes.

The game ended 3-1, by the way. The starters allowed all the runs. The Cardinals bullpen did well, although it was curiously used — down early, it was Matt Bowman and Ryan Sherriff, and then down late it was Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons, and Jordan Hicks. The weird thing about that is that the leverage was higher earlier in the game, given that they were losing (the later it gets when losing, the less important things get), but nobody expects Mike Matheny to do this stuff right anymore. He is what he is.

By the way, Mike Mayers has now gone a full week without pitching at all. The Cardinals have an eight man bullpen because Mike Matheny perceives a pressing need for Mike Mayers, who isn’t allowed to pitch. This is not a positive fact about this team.

Soooo anyway the Diamondbacks relievers tonight — Hirano, Chafin, Bradley, Boxberger — did their jobs well and the game ended the way the starters left it. Cards hit a couple long flies that might have gone out in warmer weather, and I wish I could gripe about them, but frankly so did the Diamondbacks so whatever. Let’s all commence getting real real angsty about Adam Wainwright while ignoring the fact that they probably weren’t going to win regardless while only scoring one run. And I mean it: I’m feeling angsty.

Bullets

  • Using Hicks and Leone and Lyons in a game you’re losing and not Mayers and then being too scared to use Mayers when you’re winning is so Matheny and I just can’t even
  • Dan Descalso, huh?
  • I will feel better about thinking this team is pretty good (which I do) when they stop being below or at .500