Wainwright Pitches Cards to Clinching Win

Adam Wainwright's 11-strikeout performance powered the Cardinals into their division-clinching win over Colorado on Saturday night.

In a gutsy performance in front of a national television audience on Saturday night, Adam Wainwright pitched the St. Louis Cardinals to their 2009 National League Central Division-clinching victory, as they defeated the Colorado Rockies by a 6-3 score at Coors Field.


The 2009 major league leader in pitches thrown increased his total by 130 in going eight innings. Wainwright fanned 11 and scattered ten hits, but walked just one. One of the right-hander's three runs allowed was unearned as his season ERA dropped to 2.58.


The 28-year-old picked up his 19th win of the season and perhaps iced his 2009 Cy Young Award candidacy with a crucial called strikeout of slugger Jason Giambi to end the eighth inning. Two runners were on base with the Cardinals clinging to a one-run lead.


Wainwright had just punched out Clint Barmes looking for the second out. As left-handed pinch hitter Giambi stepped in, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had a tough decision to make. Lefty relief specialist Trever Miller was ready in the pen and La Russa's famed blue cards in his back pocket surely told him Giambi was just 2-for-10 in his career against Miller.


Instead of changing horses, La Russa rode his steed for just one more batter and it worked to perfection as Giambi took a patented Wainwright curveball low in the zone for strike three. The Cardinals clearly entered the playoffs through the front door, their MLB-leading seventh post-season visit this decade.


Wainwright's clincher was the highest-ever strikeout performance by a Cardinals pitcher against the home club in their 17-year history. Friday's Colorado club might be called the Blake Street Flailers as Wainwright sat them down via strikeout 11 times.


The previous team record for strikeouts against the Rockies was nine, shared by Chris Carpenter (July 1, 2005) and Andy Benes (April 23, 2000).


During the 2,259-game and counting La Russa era in St. Louis, Wainwright's strikeout-fest was the 31st 11-or-more strikeout performance. His career-best was achieved on July 1st, when he fanned a dozen San Francisco Giants.


Wainwright may be given one more regular season start in his bid to win 20 games for the first time in his career. His following outing is expected to be as the game two starter in the National League Division Series. His likely opponent will be the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Thursday, October 8.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.


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