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Wainwright shows he still has it

Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at 9:38 AM


After Wednesday night's game, Adam Wainwright all but wept on national television when asked what the complete game shutout meant to him. This time he had something to be happy about.

When he took to the mound Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres, in three pitches you could tell he was dialed in.

His sinker sunk. His curve moved. The stars aligned for a great night for a starting pitcher who deserved a break.

Wainwright's road back has been a rocky one. So far in 2012 he has bounced back and forth between good starts and, well, not so good. We've seen glimmers of hope and moments of the old Wainwright, but what happened Tuesday was far more than a glimmer.

It was the culmination of 15 months of rehab and hard work to re-discover himself as a pitcher.

Tuesday night's start dropped Wainwright's ERA from 5.77 down to 4.76. A full point in one outing is a significant jump. That's what nine complete innings with only four hits and no earned runs can do for you.

In nine starts, he has given up four or more runs on four separate occasions. One of those was the three inning bombing by the Chicago Cubs where he was charged with eight runs. With that one bad outing removed from his statistics, he would be sporting a 3.62 ERA. That would rank him number 60 in all of MLB as opposed to number 95 of 117 where he currently ranks.

Given time, that will improve greatly. In five of his nine starts he has allowed only three runs or less (three with one run or less). All in all, he is about where he should be in turns of his rehabilitation. He also seems to be moving steadily in a positive direction.

In his last start against San Francisco, Wainwright was clearly upset with being pulled a little early. He thought he still had some gas in the tank.

Tuesday night he reminded everyone what he can do.

Wainwright threw his third career complete game shutout giving up only four hits and no earned runs. The offense backed him up and he got the job done.

Manager Mike Matheny summed him up well in the post-game news conference.

"He has the utmost respect of everyone in the clubhouse," Matheny said. "He couldn't wait to get back out there and throw another pitch."

He has a personality that simply hasn't been accept to understand his recent failures. That's why when he walked off of the mound after the ninth inning he all, but wept on camera.

While it's likely he won't look this good in every outing, it was the hope he needed. Last night both he and the world were reminded of just how dangerous he can be when he is in the zone.

One thing is for sure, a pitcher with his drive and that amount of natural born talent won't go down without a fight. I still think it will likely be July before we see the dominant pitcher who won 19 games in 2009 and 20 in 2010.


To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com, call (573)624-4545, or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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