Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Adam Wainwright posts 'vintage' performance as St. Louis Cardinals battle in playoff race

Pitcher Adam Wainwright is back in the St. Louis rotation, showed “vintage Wainwright” form on Sunday night, and it couldn’t come at more-needed time for the Cardinals.

The 37-year-old shut down the L.A. Dodgers, tossing six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and only two hits allowed. That paved the way for a 5-0 Cardinals win, which moved them into a tie with the Dodgers for the second National League wild card spot.

“You know what? Us old guys can still play, can’t we? A little bit,” Wainwright said after the game. “The main thing for me tonight was to do what I did in my entire rehab performances. It was all about executing, making my pitches. That’s probably the deepest lineup I’ve ever faced.”

The start marked just his second since sitting out for nearly four months with right elbow inflammation. The performance was Wainwright’s first victory since April 17, and his 101 pitches were his most since July 22, 2017. The last time he recorded nine strikeouts in a game was April 21, 2017.

A three-time All-Star who’s finished in the top three of NL Cy Young voting four times, Wainwright allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings during his first start since coming off the DL on Sept. 10. He figures to get two more starts before season’s end as the Cards claw for a playoff berth.

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Wainwright’s presence as a leader is a big boost for the Cardinals’ clubhouse. He’s a 13-year vet who helped St. Louis win the 2006 World Series, and he’s always looking for ways to encourage younger players in their walk with the Lord. Jack Flaherty, a 22-year-old pitcher in his first full big league season, has mentioned Wainwright as being a strong influence on him being more open about his faith.

“We are looked up to as leaders, and naturally we have an ‘in’ with the younger players simply because we have the knowledge and experience that they want to learn from,” Wainwright told Sports Spectrum. “When we can also speak into their lives on deeper matters — on things besides baseball — it provides a huge opportunity for us to share Christ’s love with those who are eager to hear what we have to say.”

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