Adam Wainwright rounding into form at right time for Cardinals

Big League Stew

Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we’ll look at the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about.

It took him until July, but the real Adam Wainwright has finally arrived for the St. Louis Cardinals.

After posting a troubling 5.04 ERA over his first 16 starts, the 34-year-old right-hander has caught fire in his three starts this month. That continued on Saturday as Wainwright went the distance in the Cardinals 5-0 win against the Marlins. The shutout was Wainwright’s first since Sept. 17, 2014 against Milwaukee and the 10th of his career.

The accomplished veteran had his entire repertoire working. That was especially true of “Uncle Charlie,” aka Wainwright’s curveball. When his curve is curving, it’s among the best in baseball. The Marlins can attest to its movement on Saturday, as they were limited to three hits while striking out five times.

Adam Wainwright acknowledge the crowed after completing his 10th career shutout. (AP)
Adam Wainwright acknowledge the crowed after completing his 10th career shutout. (AP)

With the win, St. Louis gained a game on Miami in the wild-card standings. Yes, the wild-card standings. Miami is currently tied with the Mets for the second wild-card spot, while St. Louis trails both by one game. The Cardinals are still eight back in the NL Central.

Obviously, there won’t be much margin for error if St. Louis hopes to reach a sixth straight postseason. Having Wainwright in top form though is a big step toward trimming that deficit and giving them a fighting chance. If he consistently gives them anything close to his best, St. Louis will definitely be there at the end.

TOP PERFORMERS

Matt Shoemaker: Pitching is dominating the second half so far. That trend continued in Anaheim, as Shoemaker pitched his first complete-game shutout in a 1-0 win against the White Sox. The emerging right-hander held Chicago to six hits and did not walk a batter for the fourth time in 10 outings. He also struck out 13, which put him in rare territory for the Angels.


On the other side, James Shields was every bit as good. He allowed one run on two hits in a complete-game loss. He got no support from a struggling Sox offense that has now been shutout three straight games.

Tanner Roark: The strong season continues for Washington’s 29-year-old hurler. Roark pitched eight scoreless innings in the Nationals 6-0 win against the Pirates, allowing just five hits while striking out five. Manager Dusty Baker allowed Roark to go for a complete-game shutout in the ninth inning, but was forced to pull him after two runners reached. Those runners were stranded and Roark’s ninth win was secured as Washington keeps rolling along.

Hisashi Iwakuma: Seattle’s right-hander was locked in, limiting Houston to two hits and one walk over seven innings. He also struck out eight. Lance McCullers and Houston’s bullpen nearly matched him zero-for-zero, with Robinson Cano’s sixth-inning RBI single providing the only run in Seattle’s 1-0 win.

Ryon Healy and Khris Davis: Two big bats led Oakland to a 5-4 win against Toronto. In his second big-league game, top prospect Ryon Healy delivered the biggest swing, connecting for a three-run homer against knuckleballer RA Dickey in the second inning. From there, Oakland’s offense would consist of two solo home runs from Khris Davis, which gives him 22 on the season. The A’s will go for a three-game sweep on Sunday.

MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT

Hide your eyes if you’re a Giants fan. They lost 7-6 in 10 tough innings on Saturday thanks to this walk-off balk by closer Santiago Casilla.

THE REST OF THE SCOREBOARD

Cubs 3, Rangers 1: The powerhouse teams combined for seven hits. Jason Hammel got the win over Yu Darvish, who allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings.

Red Sox 5, Yankees 2: Right-hander Edwin Rodriguez limited New York to one run on four hits over seven innings. He only struck out one, but he did lower his season ERA to 7.18.

Orioles 2, Rays 1: One fact sums up the Rays on-going struggles.


Rockies 4, Braves 3: A rare resilient performance for Colorado on the road. They overcame a three-run deficit, scoring three in the eighth and the winner in the ninth on Mark Reynolds’ RBI fielder’s choice.

Phillies 4, Mets 2: Met-killer Ryan Howard hit the 46th home run of his career against New York. That moved him to fifth all-time among hitters against them.

Royals 8, Tigers 4: Eight different Royals scored runs, with the only exception being Paulo Orlando. Eight collected hits, with the exception being Kendrys Morales. Six drove in runs, with Christian Colon knocking home two.

Brewers 9, Reds 1: We’re only monitoring trade value here. In that regard, Jonathan Lucroy did well by launching a two-run homer.

Twins 5, Indians 4 (11 innings): The voodoo ceremony didn’t work. Cleveland lost on a walk-off error committed by Yan Gomes.

Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 1 (12 innings): Breakout star Jake Lamb tied the game with a ninth-inning double and then scored the winning run after leading off the 12th with a triple.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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