The Cardinals were without closer Edward Mujica last night due to a nagging back issue, but Adam Wainwright rendered that moot by tossing his major league-leading fifth complete game in a 3-1 win over the Braves at Busch Stadium. He now leads the National League with 15 victories.
Wainwright held the Braves to six singles and no walks while striking out nine batters. The Cardinals’ ace needed 128 pitches to finish off the win, which is the second-highest pitch total of his career. Matt Holliday put St. Louis ahead with a solo homer off Kris Medlen in the sixth inning, but Wainwright provided some extra insurance with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. The man really does it all. The Braves have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since July 20-21.
While Wainwright had some ups and downs in his return from Tommy John surgery last year, he has returned to form as one of the National League’s best pitchers this season, posting a 2.58 ERA and 182/25 K/BB ratio over 198 2/3 innings. His 1.1 BB/9 is the lowest among qualified starting pitchers since Roy Halladay in 2010. If it wasn’t for the other-worldly success of Clayton Kershaw, he’d be right there for the National League Cy Young Award.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.