Adam Wainwright loses no-hitter in eighth inning, settles for shutout

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UPDATE: While Adam Wainwright lost the no-hitter in the eighth inning, he settled for a two-hit shutout as part of a 3-0 victory over the Rockies.

Wainwright allowed two hits and one walk while striking out seven. It was the sixth shutout of his career and his 12th complete game. The 31-year-old right-hander now has an excellent 2.30 ERA and 55/4 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings over eight starts this season.

Jamie Garcia will be on the hill tomorrow as the Cardinals try for the sweep. Shelby Miller and Wainwright have set the bar pretty high.

4:30 PM: Adam Wainwright’s no-hit bid is over.

After Matt Carpenter made an excellent diving play to rob Todd Helton of a hit for the first out in the top of the eighth inning, Nolan Arenado dumped a clean single into left-center field. It ended an 0-for-50 streak for the Rockies dating back to Eric Young, Jr’s leadoff single in the first inning last night.

4:13 PM ET: After Shelby Miller sat down the final 27 batters he faced following a leadoff single last night, his teammate Adam Wainwright is working on some history against the Rockies.

Wainwright hasn’t allowed a hit over his first seven innings this afternoon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Cardinals currently hold a 2-0 lead.

Wainwright retired the first 13 batters he faced until Todd Helton drew a walk with one out in the fifth inning. In fact, it was the Rockies’ first baserunner in 40 plate appearances dating back to last night. But that’s all they have been able to muster so far this afternoon. Wainwright has seven strikeouts and has thrown 68 out of 92 pitches for strikes.

Wainwright is due to face Todd Helton, Nolan Arenado and Reid Brignac in the top of the eighth inning. Stay tuned to see if he can finish the job.

Mark Lerner says Nationals can’t afford both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg

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The defending champion Washington Nationals may have to replace two star players in third baseman Anthony Rendon and starter Stephen Strasburg as both are free agents. Both are represented by agent Scott Boras and both are expected to command lucrative contracts. As a result, Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner said the club can’t afford to bring back both players, Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington reports.

Lerner told Donald Dell in an interview, “We really can only afford to have one of those two guys. They’re huge numbers. We already have a really large payroll to begin with.”

As Dybas notes, there are myriad reasons why Lerner would say this publicly. If Lerner had instead said, “Yeah, we’re filthy stinking rich, especially coming off of a World Series win. We could afford to get every free agent if we wanted to,” then the Nationals would have no leverage in negotiations. Creating artificial scarcity increases the Nationals’ leverage when negotiating with Boras and his clients. And as Dybas also points out, Lerner’s statement also prepares fans for an unsatisfactory outcome not unlike when the club took itself out of the running to bring back outfielder Bryce Harper earlier this year. This not to say Lerner’s statement is justified; it’s just how things work in the current system.

Lerner also defended the Nationals’ approach to free agency. He said, “They think you’re really back there printing money and it’s whoever goes to the highest bidder. It’s not that way at all. You give these fellas — there’s a negotiation that goes on, but…We’ve been pretty successful in free agency over time. You’re not going to get everybody. Certain players may want to go home, closer to where their home is. You never know the reason why people move on. But, we’ve been very successful. Probably one of the most successful teams in free agency the last 10 years. We’re very proud of our record. But, again, I think people have to realize, it’s not all up to us.”

It is true that the Nationals have been one of the most active teams in free agency in recent years. In a league that has otherwise done the opposite, they deserve some credit for that. But the Nationals are also keenly aware of the competitive balance tax threshold, which teams use as a de facto salary cap. They don’t have to, but they choose to because it’s a convenient structure that allows them to limit expenditures.

At the end of the day, it’s baseball’s financial structure that is rotten. It forces constant misinformation out of everyone’s mouths so as to protect their financial interests and leverage, and incentivizes teams to value profits above all. In a perfect world, MLB team owners wouldn’t need to cry poor every offseason, but we don’t live in such a world.