After all the doom and gloom of the past few days, win on Thursday and the Cardinals will return home with a 5-5 record on what has been a long, often ugly trip.
While the Cardinals were hoping for better, they’ll gladly settle for a .500 record, considering they have been shut out three times and endured a 26-inning streak without a run.
The Cardinals can thank Adam Wainwright for providing the much-needed boost Wednesday night at San Francisco. Wainwright worked 7 2/3 inings and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until his final inning in a 2-0 victory over the Giants.
He gave up only four singles and walked two, becoming the NL’s first 11-game winner (with four losses). Wainwright also lowered his ERA to 1.89, the best in the majors.
"He was terrific," manager Mike Matheny said in a post-game presser televised on FSMW. "Beat them by a little or a lot, we just need to have one more than them."
The shutout was the 16th turned in by the Cardinals, the most in the majors. Wainwright, not surprisingly, has been the starter in eight of them and completed two. In 14 of his 17 outings, the 6-7 right-hander has pitched at least seven innings without allowing more than two runs.
Such credentials should be plenty enough to earn him his first All-Star Game start, though that announcemtn won’t come until the day before the July 15 contest in Minneapolis. For now, the Cardinals will concern themselves with trying to win Thursday afternoon and avoid a losing road trip.
— Trevor Rosenthal. With his fastball regularly clocking in a 99 mph, the Cardinals closer worked his 12th consecutive scoreless outing and earned his 25th save. He had to go through the heart of the order to get it and he did by allowing an infield single — after a successful challenge by the Giants — but nothing else. Since Rosenthal’s ERA climbed to 4.98 on May 18, he has allowed just one run in the past 17 2/3 innings to lower his ERA to 2.97. All-Star worthy, perhaps.
— Matt Carpenter. For the third straight game, he led off the game by reaching base. And for the third straight game, he did not reach second base after doing so. His second time up, Carpenter took it upon himself to move the line when his single to center drove in the Cardinals’ first run. He finished the night 3 for 4, upping his batting average to .287 and OBP to .378, and extending his hitting streak to seven games.
— Oscar Taveras. Starting for the first time as a big-leauger in center field, he did nothing to embarrass himself. With the bat, he showed why Matheny put him in center two days after saying that was unlikely to happen in San Francisco. Taveras doubled down the first-base line and scored in his first at-bat, flew out deep to left center in his second and chased a high fastball to strike out in the seventh.
Said Matheny about the decision to put Taveras in center: "We have to get something going offensively, that’s all there is to it." With a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, Matheny took no chnaces and pulled Taveras in favor of best defensive center fielder, Peter Bourjos.
— Wainwright’s strikeouts. Finding yet another way to dominate, Wainwright turned to the ground ball. Seventeen of the 24 outs he got came on grounders, which didn’t leave a lot for other methods. Notably missing was the strikeout. Wainwright didn’t strike out anyone until getting Mike Morse with — of course — a curve ball to end the seventh inning. It was the first time Wainwright didn’t register at least two K’s since May 2012; that start also was against the Giants.
— Fly balls. It’s tought to hit a home run when you don’t hit the ball in the air and the Cardinals didn’t get under many of Ryan Vogelsong’s pitches. Of the 21 outs he recorded, only two came on fly balls. Also, no fewer than four of the Cardinals’ eight hits came on ground balls.
— Joe Kelly. His chances of returning to the rotation this weekend were dashed before the game by Matheny. Speaking on the FSMW pre-game show, Matheny said Kelly’s fastball was "coming out of his hand" better in his second rehab start but his secondary pitches still lacked sharpness. With Kelly to get at least one more start in the minors, rookie lefty Marcos Gonzales is in line to make his third start, Sunday at home against the Marlins.