The Cardinals, in throwing three straight shutouts for the first time since 1988, knocked off 39 consecutive scoreless innings before the streak was stopped against the St. Louis bullpen on Sunday. Part of the reason was their pitchers' ability to throw the high fastball and control the counts.
A day after right-handed rookie Shelby Miller fanned eight, walked none and held Milwaukee to one hit in seven innings, right hander Adam Wainwright fanned 12 and walked none. The pitching philosophy has changed somewhat this year. The high fastball is OK.
"You've got to have something to put somebody away with," said manager Mike Matheny, referring to the practice of pitching with two strikes. "That elevated fastball can help with that. It's an art. It's something they have to practice."
While throwing high fastballs comes naturally to Miller, Wainwright admitted he needed to adjust his thinking.
"Everything I throw is designed to be down, down, down and the only thing I throw that pops up at all is my (curveball)," said Wainwright.
"If a hitter is really locked in on me, then he can distinguish on everything down is going to be hard and when it comes up, it's going to be off speed."
But with an elevated fastball, Wainwright said, "It gives the hitter something that comes out of (the)same slot and at the same level. One drops. The other stays straight. It's harder to know what's coming."