PITTSBURGH (AP) — Adam Wainwright is waiting for longtime St. Louis Cardinals teammate Yadier Molina to start pressuring him to return in 2022.
Given the way the veteran right-hander is dealing at the moment, the line behind Molina in the St. Louis clubhouse to convince Wainwright to come back for a 17th season figures to be long. Really long.
Forgive the Pittsburgh Pirates if they don’t join in.
Wainwright’s final start of his 30s was another in a seemingly endless string of masterpieces against the Pirates. Two days before turning 40, Wainwright allowed three hits over seven innings in a 13-0 win on Saturday night.
Wainwright (13-7) struck out five and walked just one to improve to 4-0 with a 0.30 ERA against the Pirates this season. He is unbeaten against Pittsburgh in his last 17 starts dating to 2016.
Asked to explain why he’s dominated the Pirates for so long, the three-time All-Star just shrugged.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m really trying to take it pitch to pitch and inning to inning and not think about the whole bulk of it. As soon as you start thinking you own somebody, they put a crooked number on you really quick.”
Maybe, but not the Pirates, who were confounded by Wainwright for a third time in 17 days. He tossed a complete-game two-hit shutout at PNC Park on Aug. 11, followed it up with eight scoreless innings in St. Louis last Sunday and came back with another brilliantly efficient performance as the Cardinals won their second straight as they try to stay on the fringe of the NL playoff race.
“I almost don’t know how to describe that because I’ve never really seen it,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said.
Wainwright would prefer not to either. He’s been so focused on trying to keep St. Louis within striking distance of a wild-card spot he hasn’t spent much time thinking about what this late-career renaissance means.
He does know, however, that he feels better now than he did in 2018, or 2019 for that matter. His ERA on the season sits at 2.97 entering September.
“That wasn’t a hard goal, but I felt like if I stayed healthy I’d be able to get to that number and surprise some people,” Wainwright said.
Well, surprise people that weren’t the Pirates.
Regardless of the lineup, the stakes or the way he feels, Wainwright has overwhelmed Pittsburgh for more than five years. His last loss to the Pirates came on opening day in 2016, before any member of the 25-men in the Pittsburgh dugout had played an inning at PNC Park.
While the faces have changed through the years, the results have not. Wainwright is now 10-0 in his last 18 appearances against Pittsburgh after throwing 66 of his 93 pitches for strikes and not allowing a Pirate to get to third base.
Not bad for a player who remembers being in Little League and marveling at all the 40-something dads coaching. The Little Leaguer thought all those coaches were ancient. Funny how nearly two decades in the majors changes your perspective.
“Turns out they weren’t old, they were young,” Wainwright said with a laugh.
Wainwright hasn’t needed any run support this season against Pittsburgh — he’s pitched 26 consecutive scoreless innings against the Pirates in 2021 — but he received plenty anyway.
Edmundo Sosa tripled twice and drove in five runs against Pirates starter Steven Brault (0-3). He hit a shot to the notch in left-center in the second to score Molina and Dylan Carlson and cleared the bases with a liner to the gap in right-center in the third on his way to a 4 for 6 night. Tommy Edman also went 4 for 6 and Paul Goldschmidt had two hits and three RBIs for the Cardinals, who have won 12 of their 18 meetings with Pittsburgh this season.
Bryan Reynolds doubled for the Pirates but couldn’t stop Pittsburgh from losing by double digits for the seventh time this season and third time this month. The defeat came on the same day the team released longtime right fielder Gregory Polanco, the last remaining member of the group that reached the playoffs three straight times from 2013-15.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton doesn’t think Polanco’s departure played any factor in his team’s listless performance. They’ve been listless when facing Wainwright all season.
“I think it was just the fact that the Cardinals came out and played really well tonight, and we didn’t play very well,” Shelton said. “I don’t think (Polanco leaving) had any effect at all.”
Cardinals: Placed LHP Andrew Miller on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Friday with a blister on his left foot. Miller missed all of May with a blister on his right foot. St. Louis called up RHP Kodi Whitley from Triple-A Memphis to fill Miller’s roster spot. Whitley last pitched in the majors in May before going to the IL with back spasms.
Pirates: RF Michael Chavis left in the fourth inning with right (throwing) elbow discomfort. Chavis was replaced by Cole Tucker.
Cardinals: LHP Kwang Hyun Kim (6-6, 3.27 ERA) will make his first start since Aug. 7 in the series finale on Sunday.
Pirates: Wil Crowe (3-7, 5.46) will try for his first win in nearly a month on Sunday. Crowe is 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA in four August starts.