Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright nearly won the National League Cy Young Award last season and he has put his name atop the list of candidates again this year.
Through 20 starts, the 28-year-old right-hander is 14-5 with a 2.02 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 130 strikeouts in 142 1/3 innings. He has four complete games and one shutout, and on Saturday night he was excellent once again.
Wainwright allowed only five hits over six scoreless innings and added three strikeouts to his season-long total as the Cardinals won their third consecutive game over the Dodgers. He also became the first St. Louis pitcher to win his first 10 starts at home since the fine folks at STATS LLC began recording such things in 1920. He has thrown 19 straight scoreless innings.
The success isn’t anything new for Waino, and it’s certainly not catching anybody by surprise. Cardinals fans, though, will be happy to know that he is still working to get better. At the All-Star Game last week, he learned Tim Lincecum’s changeup and used it in his first start of the second half.
“I asked him his changeup grip and he showed it
to me,” Wainwright said Saturday. “I hope this doesn’t get him in trouble but I
threw it in the bullpen during the All-Star game. I kind of worked with it
on the fly during the game today. I probably threw eight or 10 of them.
It’s a work in progress but it’s a certainly a good pitch.”
His ERA at Busch Stadium this year is 1.13 and he’s fired 27 consecutive quality starts at home. Back when Cardinals legend Bob Gibson recorded his famous 1.12 earned-run average in the summer of 1968, his home ERA was 1.41. In some ways this season, Wainwright has been better.
The Miami Marlins, despite not having technically fired Dan Jennings, are actively interviewing for a new manager. Their latest target is a familiar name: Larry Bowa.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports on the coaching staff shakeup with the Phillies and, in the course of it, notes that the Marlins have asked and have been granted permission to interview Bowa, who is currently the Phillies’ bench coach. He has been offered a contract for 2016 by the Phillies, but he has never made a secret of his desire to manage again and has interviewed a few times over the years. Bowa, of course, managed the Padres in 1987 and 1988 and managed the Phillies from 2001 into the 2004 season.
As recently as a year ago it seemed unlikely that Bowa would get another look for a top job anyplace, what with baseball’s seeming eschewing of the crusty and feisty old managerial types in favor of young, inexperienced managers who had just recently retired from playing. But given how poorly that’s gone for most clubs — the Marlins included with Mike Redmond — this could be a winter in which we see a bunch of those old salty types returning.
There was some hockey person last week arguing about how it was silly or untoward for baseball teams to celebrate clinching wild cards or other, less-than-championship-level accomplishments. Calling it bush league or lacking in act-like-you’ve-been-thereness or what have you. I can only imagine what he’d say about the Astros celebrating with champagne following (a) winning a wild card; and (b) losing the game which immediately preceded the celebration.
But screw him. Seriously.
I used to think that way. Indeed, if you search the HBT archives I’m sure there’s a post or two in which I disapprove of teams engaging in multiple champagne celebrations. But I was wrong about that and I’ve changed my mind on the matter over the past year or too. And on some other matters as well, all for the same reason: athletes are people just like us, not some avatars for our machismo and our fantasies. They’re people who have spent their entire lives devoted to their calling and do it under a lot of pressure and in the face of a lot of criticism and expectations from others. Why on Earth would anyone deny them their happiness upon the realization of an accomplishment?
This is even more true if you’re one of those misguided souls who erroneously believe that sports actually is separate from real life and believe them to be supremely and impossibly important. Even if you’re right — and you’re not — wouldn’t that give the athletes an even greater incentive to celebrate accomplishments? Funny how those people who who act as if sports is life and death would deny athletes their joy for defying death, as it were.
My view on the matter now is that if a guy hits a homer he should be able to celebrate it. If a pitcher strikes a guy out, he should be able to celebrate it. If a team makes the playoffs, no matter how low their seed and no matter the manner in which the accomplishment is achieved short of their competitors going down in a plane crash, they should be able to celebrate if they so choose.
So enjoy your hangovers this morning, Houston Astros.