ST. LOUIS — With 10 games left in their regular season, the Cardinals still have a shot to beat the 1968 club’s record of 30 shutouts in a season.
All they have to do is repeat Adam Wainwright’s performance from Wednesday night in every remaining game.
Still, with the 21 shutouts the Cardinals have recorded, they have matched the 1943 team for third most in a season, behind the ’68 club and the ’44 team that had 26.
For Mike Matheny, the key to all these whitewashings is obvious. "Adam’s had an exceptional season. He’s been in the middle of a lot of the shutouts we’ve seen," Matheny said.
For Yadier Molina, it’s about the young pitchers growing up. "They go right after people," he said. "They’ve got good fastballs and they’re getting more experience. That’s the key. When you get experience, you get confidence."
Wainwright says the success began in spring training when the starters treated every drill and every bullpen session as more than just practice.
"We challenged each other," he said. "Who’s going to step up and be the man? Every fifth day, we’ve got guys out there who are going to want to go do that."
None have stepped up as much as the 33-year-old ace. Wainwright’s 2-0 seven-hitter over the Brewers Wednesday night earned Wainwright his 19th win and made him the only Cardinals pitcher besides Bob Gibson to post four seasons with at least 19 wins (He still a long ways to match Gibson, who won 20 five times and 19 twice).
Wainwright also turned in his career-best third shutout of the season. Add eight other starts he’s made when he didn’t allow a run and the bullpen completed the job and Wainwright has been part of 11 shutouts, most on the team.
Who’s pitched in the second most? Glad you asked. The answer is one of 21 fun facts listed here to recognize the Cardinals’ season of whitewashings.
1. After Wainwright, closer Trevor Rosenthal has worked in the most shutouts, 10, and Pat Neshek is next at nine.
2. In 1968, only three of the club’s 30 shutouts were combined efforts. This year, 16 have needed assistance from the bullpen.
3. Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller have the only other complete-game efforts besides Wainwright.
4. Both Lynn and Miller threw their shutouts against AL East opponents. Lynn five-hit the Yankees at Busch Stadium on May 27. Miller held the Blue Jays to three hits at Toronto on June 7 in what was a very big win at the time.
5. The Cardinals’ shutouts this season are the most in the majors since, well, last year. The Dodgers finished 2013 with 22.
6. The Cardinals don’t even lead the majors this season. They are tied with the Tampa Bay Rays, who threw their 21st on Monday night.
7. With nine shutouts over the past five seasons, Wainwright is tied with Clayton Kershaw for most in the majors. And Wainwright, remember, missed all of 2011.
8. With nine also in his career, Wainwright is tied for 29th for most shutouts with the Cardinals since 1900. He’s one behind his buddy, Chris Carpenter, and 47 shy of Gibson’s franchise mark.
9. Wainwright is tied for the majors lead this season with Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez and Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello.
10. Wainwright’s total this year is the most by a Cardinal since Chris Carpenter finished 2006 with three. Carpenter topped that with four in 2005, his Cy Young season.
11. In 1968, when Gibson led the way with 13, the Cardinals boasted three other starters who have topped Wainwright’s 2014 total. Steve Carlton pitched five and veteran right-handers Nelson Briles and Ray Washburn each threw a career-best four. Carlton, by the way, would finish his career with 55 shutouts, one fewer than Gibson.
12. This year’s total is the most by the Cardinals since the mound was lowered in 1969. The 1985 team threw the second most, 20.
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13. In the four other seasons when the Cardinals recorded at least 20 shutouts, they reached the World Series.
14. The Cardinals have not gone longer than 34 games without a shutout this season, that drought running from July 27 through Sept. 3.
15. Their best stretch came in June when they pitched four shutouts in a six-day stretch, including their only back-to-back shutouts of the season, June 7-8 at Toronto.
16. The Cardinals themselves have been shut out 12 times, the most since they were blanked 13 times in 2010.
17. Ten of the Cardinals’ shutouts have come against the NL Central. They’ve blanked the Pirates four times, the Reds three, Brewers two and Cubs once.
18. The most impressive shutout was pitched by — who else — Wainwright. On May 20, he gave up a fourth-inning double to Paul Goldschmidt and did not allow another base runner in a 5-0 victory over Arizona at Busch Stadium.
19. The most pitches the Cardinals have thrown in a shutout this season were 157 against the Pirates on April 25. They used five pitchers, with Miller starting.
20. The fewest pitches the Cardinals have needed in a shutout were 96, which came Sept. 8 at Cincinnati in a game that Miller also started. He threw 81 pitches in seven innings, compared to 97 in 5 2/3 innings in the April 25 shutout. The difference goes a long way in showing Miller’s improvement between the two outings.
21. Miller, who starts Thursday night in the series finale against Milwaukee, has allowed only one run in his past three starts so who knows? This story might need updating before the night is over.