Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright had to wait a couple of extra days before his start Tuesday. He had waited a career for a start like Tuesday’s. One swing from perfect, Wainwright held the Arizona Diamondbacks to one hit and retired 27 of the 28 batters he faced in a 5-0 shutout at Busch Stadium. The righty had teased and chased this kind of dominance before, losing a no-hitter late in a start and crafting four two-hit shutouts, his most recent coming just a month ago. His first one-hitter was also his eighth career shutout and the first where he faced fewer than 30 batters. “This is how I felt coming out of spring training,” Wainwright said. “That was exactly what I felt I could do. The thing I did better than maybe I’ve ever done is I kept my body under control better than ever. I never felt my body flying open. I never followed through out of whack.” First baseman Matt Adams was more succinct: “Wow.” The Cardinals backed Wainwright (7-2) with their first home runs in eight games and five runs, all scored with two outs. Adams, free of the elbow brace he’s been encouraged to wear by his manager, clubbed a two-run homer off Arizona starter Bronson Arroyo in the second inning to stake Wainwright to an early lead. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta had a double, two RBIs and his team-leading ninth home run to extend the lead. Meandering offensively early this season, the Cardinals have scored at least four runs in eight consecutive games. They have won six of those games and led after eight innings in seven. Wainwright gave the bullpen a night off following an off day, just as he had two extra days off between starts. He conceded that he needed them. Rarely one to enjoy a break from the five-day schedule of a starter, Wainwright used the two extra days between starts to regain what he had lost toward the end of April. In his final start of the month, against Pittsburgh, Wainwright threw eight shutout innings with the flu and then threw up after the game. The bug sapped him of seven pounds. He had to alter his weightlifting because of a hyperextended knee April 22, and he lost some strength in his legs as a result. This week between starts allowed him to regain weight, do an extra session of leg lifts and emerge feeling as sharp and strong as he had to begin the season. “When my body is in control and getting to the right checkpoints to throw a baseball, then you throw it where you want,” Wainwright said. “It’s not rocket science. You just have to get there.” Wainwright shackled an Arizona team that had just scored 23 runs in its previous two games against the Dodgers. In one of those games, the D’backs throttled reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw for seven runs in 1 2/3 innings. Another aspiring Cy Young candidate, Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto, allowed six earned runs Tuesday night to Washington, raising his ERA to 1.86. Wainwright dropped his to 1.85, second-best in the National League. He did so on 115 pitches, only 29 of which were balls. The lone hit he allowed, a double off the center-field wall by MVP runner-up Paul Goldschmidt, was followed by 16 outs from the next 16 batters. Only four of the outs went beyond the infield. Wainwright described how he was"control" of his body in such a way that he didn't have to throw at maximum effort except for a few times. He didn't spin out of his mechanics and lose command, and he didn't himself leaning the wrong way on the mound when it came to fielding his position. The final out of the game was a ground ball right back to the mound. Had he been listing in his delivery, his follow through would have taken him to the side of the mound -- and grounder would have gone for a base hit.
Wainwright was one swing from perfect in Cards win over Diamondbacks
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | May 21