COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Cardinals entered August 28's game riding high, coming off a pair of victories over the Cincinnati Reds to begin a stretch of 13 games against the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.
It is a stretch that will likely determine who will win the NL Central and with ace Adam Wainwright on the hill, the Cardinals were looking for a sweep and to continue the momentum as they head to Pittsburgh.
The result was much different than anyone could have expected. Wainwright, who has pitched like a Cy Young Award candidate for most of the season, was anything but on Wednesday, allowing an eye-popping nine earned runs in just two innings of work.
The Reds battered Wainwright around with a barrage of base hits in the first inning, leading to six runs before Jay Bruce hit his second home run of the series in the second inning to drive in three more. Wainwright, who entered the game with just 25 walks in 27 starts, even walked a pair of hitters in his two innings of work, a clear sign that it simply was not his night.
For several reasons, it was a disappointing performance by Wainwright, who was coming off a 128-pitch complete-game effort his last time out.
The Cardinals as a team really could have been riding a tidal wave of momentum into Pittsburgh with a sweep of the Reds.
Instead, the Cardinals watched their ace get rattled around by a division rival right before a huge road trip that very well could determine the NL Central race. The Cardinals will have to bounce back quickly, and while it was just one game, the intensity will be raised and it very well will be a playoff atmosphere when the Pirates and Cardinals take the field Friday. Coming off a thumping can not help matters.
While Wainwright's performance against the Reds is certainly not what the Cardinals wanted before a very important road trip, it also likely destroyed any chances the ace had at winning the NL Cy Young Award.
Clayton Kershaw and Matt Harvey have been the leading candidates for the award all season long and with Harvey's season-ending elbow injury, Kershaw certainly is way in front of the remaining pack.
Wainwright, who is now 15-8 on the season, could have entered his name seriously into the conversation with a dominant September and by helping lead the Cardinals to a division title.
With an ERA that is now close to 3.00 and with this horrible performance on his resume, Wainwright has absolutely zero shot at taking home the hardware given to the best pitcher in the league.
Wainwright has been a horse for the Cardinals all season long and is having a great season as one of the true aces in the National League. He is second in the NL in innings pitched, third in strikeouts and is tied for the NL lead with 15 wins.
His resume is certainly strong and nobody should sneeze at the season he has had.
But Kershaw was just too far ahead to begin with and after a horrid start like the one against the Reds, Wainwright has no shot at the award, barring an epic collapse over multiple starts by Kershaw himself.
Wainwright's performance was disappointing for several reasons and hearing that he should not be considered a candidate for the Cy Young Award any longer likely will not sit well with Cardinals fans.
The award that matters to Cardinals fans should not be the Cy Young. It should be a World Series trophy and nobody is better equipped to help lead a pitching staff to that title than Adam Wainwright, even after getting drilled by the Reds.
Wainwright is out of the Cy Young race, but bet on him pitching well the rest of the way and leading the Cardinals on another playoff run,.
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- Adam Wainwright
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