For as long as he’s pitched, Adam Wainwright is running out of “firsts.” But now that he has turned 40, there is a whole new set of categories.
When Wainwright faces Mets lefthander Rich Hill on Monday night in New York, he will be facing someone even older than he. Hill is 41.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it will be the first matchup of 40-somethings since June 18, 2015, when Toronto’s R.A. Dickey, 40, opposed the Mets’ Bartolo Colon, 42. Youth was served as Dickey won 7-1, pitching into the eighth inning.
Wainwright is only the second Cardinals pitcher to oppose a 40-year-old. On June 18, 1933, the Cardinals’ Dazzy Vance, 42, faced off with Cincinnati’s Eppa Rixey, 42. Rixey pitched a 13-hit complete game to beat the Cardinals and reliever Paul “Daffy” Dean 6-5.
The last previous time Wainwright, who has won eight of his past nine decisions, had started against someone older than he came on Oct. 2, 2016. That is when, at 35, he faced 39-year-old Ryan Vogelsong of Pittsburgh. Wainwright gave up two runs in six innings in a 10-4 Cardinals win in Vogelsong’s final game.
Jake Woodford and Jon Lester will pitch the other two games of the series, following 15-game winner Wainwright. Marcus Stroman and Tyler Megill will work for New York on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hudson is grounded
Righthander Dakota Hudson threw two double-play grounders, one twin killing initiated by himself, and worked five innings, giving up just two hits and one run for Class AA Springfield against Arkansas in his fourth rehabilitation start Sunday night. He is continuing his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery of nearly a year ago.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said that the Cardinals plan to have the sinkerballer, who got 10 of his 15 outs via the ground ball, to make one more minor-league start, for Memphis, this week.
Then he is likely to join the Cardinals as a reliever for the final couple of weeks of the season.
He threw 57 pitches, 36 for strikes, on Sunday. In three starts for Springfield and one for Class A Palm Beach, Hudson has allowed three runs in 13 2/3 innings (1.98 ERA) and allowed 10 hits and four walks.
Hudson might turn up in the Cardinals’ bullpen for a possible postseason appearance, as could Jack Flaherty.
“That would be fantastic,” Shildt said.
Flaherty, recovering from a shoulder problem, will throw a bullpen session here on Thursday and then, after another one, might be headed for a rehab appearance or two the week after.
In theory, both could be in a playoff game together, say, after Wainwright potentially would win the final game of the regular season.
“I’ve thought about it,” said Shildt, smiling. “Managed it last night in my head.
“We won, clearly. Five-nothing.”
Shortstop Edmundo Sosa, who had been out for four starts with a sprained left wrist, took grounders before Sunday’s game and then entered the game in a double switch in the sixth inning.
That probably means Sosa could start Monday in New York but Shildt said of his shortstop plans for the next three weeks, “We’re in a day-by-day mode. There are some (opposing) pitchers where it’s better for Sosa’s swing path and some are better for 'Paulie' (Paul DeJong).
“Good problem, though. I love having the opportunity to have two different guys that we want in the lineup.”
When a team is trying to stay alive in a playoff hunt, it can find itself rooting for some strange bedfellows. For instance, the Cardinals just finished a contested, four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and then found themselves immediately rooting for the Dodgers to beat San Diego, which they did, and then next weekend to beat the Reds at Cincinnati.
“You’re doing everything you can to scratch, claw and beat (the Dodgers),” Shildt said. “And then, the next day, it’s ‘Let’s go!’ Our allegiances change quickly
“There are some teams that are really hard to pull for but you need to--but it’s still kind of counter-intuitive.”
Fernandez season is over
Righthanded reliever Junior Fernandez, who has a right shoulder strain, was moved from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day IL. To replace Fernandez on the 40-man roster, another hard-throwing reliever, Johan Quezada, was taken off the injured list at Class AA Springfield (he had had COVID issues) and was placed back on the 40.
Shildt said that only rest had been prescribed so far for Fernandez, who had a 5.66 earned-run average and one win in 17 outings with the Cardinals. “He was clearly not coming back for this season but I don’t think there’s any issue about him being ready for spring training,” said Shildt.
With a scoreless inning on Sunday, righthander Luis Garcia has the sixth longest scoreless streak by a Cardinals reliever at 24 innings. Ernie White has the club record of 29 2/3 innings in 1941.
• Backup catcher Andrew Knizner made his 36th start on Sunday. Six of those games have been shutouts of the Cardinals’ season total of 14.