Now that he has career victory No. 99 tucked away, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jake Westbrook eyes No. 100 next Tuesday in his own personal chamber of horrors, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, of all places.
Westbrook led St. Louis to a 10-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, his first shutout in nearly seven years.
Only 1-7 against the Pirates in his career, Westbrook is 0-5 at PNC Park with a 5.86 ERA. In his only career win against the Pirates, on Aug. 26, 2011, in St. Louis, Westbrook staggered through six innings, walking five and allowing four runs.
"Getting to 100 is an accomplishment," Westbrook said. "It's a sign of longevity and hanging in there and pitching well.
"(The Pirates) have my number for some reason. Hopefully, I can do everything I can to change that."
Westbrook, who normally has impeccable control, has walked six and then four in his first two starts, covering 15 2/3 innings. However, he also hasn't given up an earned run in that time, and for the first time in his career, he is flourishing with a changeup that, if he didn't develop it this spring, he at least refined it.
Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist agreed with the bromide that old dogs can learn new tricks.
"Why not?" Lilliquist said. "It's a weapon for him."
The complete game for the 35-year-old Westbrook matched his total for last year.
"It always means a lot when you can finish what you started," said Westbrook, who followed up a 116-pitch, 6 2/3-inning effort (one unearned run) in San Francisco on April 5 with a 111-pitch effort Wednesday.
Just in case manager Mike Matheny thought Westbrook might be tiring, the right-hander sprinted to the mound to pick up the ball before the ninth inning started.
"I told him, I'd thrown less pitches than in my last start," Westbrook said, "so I might as well keep going."
Lilliquist said he and Matheny were toying with lifting Westbrook, "but he was adamant about going back," the pitching coach said.
Westbrook did admit that he was a little bit curious as to how he would bounce back after throwing so many pitches in his first start.
"I'm 35. It's not like I'm (Trevor) Rosenthal's age. Or Shelby's (Shelby Miller) age," he said.
Both those young hard-throwers are 22.