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.
TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.
Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.
If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.
“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”
Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.
The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.
Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.