One way to measure a game that Adam Wainwright brought with him to the Cardinals from his time as a young Braves prospect was a tip from one of the Cy Young-winning starters there about the relation between pitch count and innings.
If a pitcher can leave an inning with the first digit of his pitch count the same as the inning, that pitcher is doing something right.
It takes 20 pitches to get through two? Good beginning.
It takes 80 to get into the ninth? Goodness, hello shutout?
Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo carved through the Cardinals on Friday for such a gem that he was right on that mark to pull off something novel for his career and recently rare for the Reds. Castillo needed 88 pitches to into the eighth inning. He had not yet reached 100 by the time the ninth inning started, and that allowed him to plunge on for the complete-game, 3-1 victory against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
The complete game was Castillo's first of his career, and it was the first by a Reds starter since May 2017.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt jots down notes after a game -- things he wants to remember, things he wants to mention to the media, things the media may ask him about the game.
"Wrote (about) the offense -- Castillo," Shildt said. "That's as good of stuff as we've seen."
The last complete game by a Cardinal was during their last home stand.
Wainwright threw it.
Opposite Castillo (2-5), Wainwright (4-1) found a way to make the most of what he had for a quality start. He allowed three runs and worked his way around eight hits, relying a lot on his curveball and being judicious with his cutter. Joey Votto greeted the cutter with a two-run homer in the first inning for the game's first runs, and the Reds would add a run later against Wainwright on Eugenio Suarez's RBI double.
Wainwright abandoned the cutter.
"It was slow ... so we bagged it," Wainwright said. "Some time you have the battle with lesser stuff."
Wainwright has five quality starts in seven games this season.
Castillo's record is more an indictment on the Reds' offense than his pitching, and he brought a sub-3.50 ERA into the game and chiseled it down from there.
The one run the Cardinals got on Castillo scored on a groundout.
They managed two hits against the righthander.
One was a double down the third-base line, and the other was a skip single pulled to right field. Castillo walked Paul Goldschmidt in the ninth inning. He had retired 13 consecutive before the walk.
On 15th anniversary of MLB debut, Wainwright uses guile to author quality start
It wasn't the breeziest of his 390 appearances in the majors or in the conversation for his best, but for Adam Wainwright to fish a quality start out of the murkiness of Friday night's game is an example of why he's maintained a career in the majors.
Fifteen years after his major-league debut with the Cardinals -- to the date -- Wainwright made his 323rd start for the Cardinals.
Cincinnati dinged Wainwright in the first inning with a two-run homer, and two runs remain the difference in the score headed into the seventh inning.
The Reds lead, 3-1.
What Wainwright did after that homer was to find a way to rely less on the pitch that landed in the seats and more on what he had (his trusty curve) and what he could do off it (re-sequence his pitches). Wainwright sidestepped eight hits allowed and two walks with four strikeouts, a key double play in the first inning, a caught stealing by his battery mate Yadier Molina, and some guile. And a sliding catch in center by Lane Thomas, too.
With two runners on for Reds newcomer Brian Goodwin, Wainwright yo-yo'd some curves to him before Goodwin swung over one for a strikeout to end the inning.
Wainwright got the final batter he faced, Jorge Garcia, on a full-count strikeout. The last pitch was, of course, a curveball that Garcia couldn't reach.
That was also Wainwright's 99th pitch.
He completed six innings and allowed the three earned runs for a quality start. Five of his seven starts this season have been quality starts, and one that wasn't was his five-inning gem in a seven-inning game against the White Sox that marked the Cardinals' return from 17 days in quarantine.
The Cardinals have two hits. That's it.
The run they scored came on a groundout.
The game is going into the eighth.
Votto's 442-foot launch sends Reds to early lead against Wainwright, Cardinals
The risk/reward of the pitch that has enhanced Adam Wainwright's career and also given him some of the bigger headaches of his career, is that when it's good it's in on the hands of hitters and hard to hammer.
When it's off, when it spins instead of slashes, the cutter goes a long way.
Joey Votto saw one of the latter.
He didn't miss it.
The former MVP, who has struggled to hit .216 this season, connected on a 3-1 cutter from Wainwright and piloted it to the second deck of bleachers beyond the right-field wall. The cutter came in at 86.2 mph. The home run left Votto's bat at 113 mph, according to Statcast. Votto's seventh home run of the season gave the game its first runs and vaulted the Reds to a lead before the Cardinals got their turn at bat.
Entering the bottom of the fifth inning, the Reds lead, 3-1.
Votto's two-run homer came a few innings before Eugenio Suarez's RBI double.
In the next inning, the fourth, Jose Garcia sent a ball back at Wainwright that appeared to catch the righthander in the leg, right in the quadriceps near where it meets the knee. Wainwright remained in the game to finish the inning with a groundout, and he returned for the top of the fifth as if unbothered by the bruise.
The Cardinals' first run of the game -- and, as of writing this, only run of the game -- came from a leadoff walk, because that's how leadoff walks work.
Brad Miller drew a leadoff walk, got to third on Paul DeJong's double, and scored on Matt Carpenter's apparent infield single. The umpire initially ruled that Carpenter beat pitcher Luis Castillo to first. The Reds challenged, and one of the angles gave enough of a definitive look for the call to be overturned. Carpenter got the RBI, but not the single.
Gallegos goes on the IL, throwing open Cardinals' casting call for closer
The soreness that abruptly stopped Giovanny Gallegos' outing Thursday and contributed to the misplaced lead that cost the Cardinals a doubleheader sweep has now reopened the casting call for closer.
Gallegos was placed on the 10-day injured list Friday afternoon with a groin strain, and with time running out on the season the injury could sideline him for the remainder of the schedule. The righthander was removed from the seventh inning of Thursday's Game 2 in the midst of Detroit's rally to overtake a two-run lead and win, 6-3. Gallegos was scheduled to have a scan of the injured area Friday to determine the severity.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said that Gallegos had no advertised issues going into the doubleheader Thursday.
The Cardinals moved Nabil Crismatt to the active roster. The righthander had served as the 29th man for Thursday's doubleheader. The team also learned that Ryan Meisinger cleared waivers and could be assigned to the Springfield, Mo., alternate site camp. He is no longer on the 40-man roster, but remains in the organization.
The Cardinals have "passed the ball around," as pitching coach Mike Maddux says, when handling the ninth inning, though veteran Andrew Miller is poised to get most of the save opportunities with Gallegos' on the IL.
Ryan Helsley and John Gant offer righthanded options for the ninth, and Alex Reyes has ascended in his assignments out of the bullpen, growing into a multi-inning, high-leverage position as he had Thursday. His outing in Game 2 would have been the pivot had the Cardinals held on for the victory.
Here are some other notes from pregame:
• The Cardinals will begin wearing the memorial patches for Lou Brock with Friday's game. They are a circle, bordered in red and featuring Brock's retired number (20) and his signature.
• Kwang Hyun Kim is being considered for a start Monday in Milwaukee. He had a positive bullpen session Thursday, and he has recovered well. The question is one of safety, not baseball, at this point. He is taking a blood thinner that requires he avoid contact that might bruise or cut him. Once cleared by the doctors, he will be considered for that start.
• Daniel Ponce de Leon will start the other game Monday.
• Carlos Martinez will start Sunday vs. Reds.
• Johan Oviedo continues to test negative for COVID-19. The team is trying to organize a way for him to throw a bullpen session while not breaking quarantine, and that could mean setting up a social distance workout. He will throw a ball only once to a catcher. There will be limited people present, like there was for the individual workouts for the team coming out of the outbreak.
Guiding the Cardinals' decisions here are medical experts and their own experience, where they had a second wave of the outbreak more than week after the initial positive tests.
Oviedo could yet start one of the games in Milwaukee, if cleared. It's more likely that he appears in Pittsburgh.
• Adam Wainwright and Austin Gomber are likely to split the Wednesday doubleheader at Miller Park, at this point. That will depend on how the weekend against the Reds plays out.
Cincinnati visits for its second and final time this season this weekend. The three-game series will conclude the 10 games between the two teams, and the Cardinals have won both of the previous series.
Think the Cardinals have struggled to score runs?
Consider the Reds.
The Reds rank last in the majors with a .210 average. The Cardinals rank 14th with a .249 team batting average.
The Reds have scored one more run than the Cardinals this season, 169 to 168. Of course, the Cardinals are about to play their 38th game of the season, while the Reds are 3/4 of the way through their season, with their 45th game Friday evening at Busch Stadium. Here are the OPS rankings for all five NL Central teams:
- 15. Cardinals .743
- 20. Cubs .734
- 22. Brewers .718
- 23. Reds .712
- 30. Pirates .634
The Reds rank 25th in on-base percentage, while the Cardinals have built their offense around ranking fourth in the majors in on-base percentage, at .342. That plumps their OPS higher than the division rivals.
The Reds rank 22nd in slugging percentage, snug behind the Cardinals at 21st. Both round up to a .401 slugging percentage.
Offense is lacking throughout the division with the Cubs struggling at home, the Brewers struggling on the road, the Cardinals struggling to be consistent, the Reds struggling in general, and the Pirates bringing new meaning to struggling.
Four of the five teams in the division rank in the bottom six of teams for runs scored.
With that as a backdrop, Adam Wainwright makes his first start at Busch Stadium since his complete game against the other team from Ohio, Cleveland. Wainwright will have this lineup at his back, and the next one listed facing him:
1. Wong, 2B
2. Edman, RF
3. Goldschmidt, 1B
4. B. Miller, DH
5. DeJong, SS
6. Molina, C
7. Carpenter, 3B
8. O'Neill, LF
9. Thomas, CF
Starting pitcher: Adam Wainwright, RHP (4-0, 2.68)
1. Akiyama, CF
2. Castellanos, DH
3. Votto, 1B
4. Suarez, 3B
5. Goodwin, CF
6. Aquino, RF
7. Galvis, 2B
8. Garcia, SS
9. Casali, C
Starting pitcher: Luis Castillo, RHP (1-5, 3.95)
Check back throughout the evening here at Cardinal Beat and STLtoday.com for coverage from Busch Stadium. Rick Hummel is at the keyboard for the game coverage in Saturday's paper, and there will be exclusive coverage, per usual, on STLtoday.com throughout the evening and in the morning.
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