Adam Wainwright is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Not the best, but one of the best. Even when he doesn't have his best stuff he gives the Cardinals a chance to win. Last night Wainwright didn't have his best stuff, he walked three, gave up seven hits, and threw 112 pitches in only seven innings. The Pirates had runners all over the bases, they had at least one runner on in each of those innings and had multiple runners on in about half those innings. The problem is that the Pirates didn't score any runs.
The offense left 12 on base and went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and they grounded into a pair of double plays. The offense has been good for a large chunk of this season and is the reason the team is where they are heading into the All-Star break but this game was wildly frustrating. It's hard enough to get base runners against Wainwright and when you do you have to capitalize. The Pirates didn't.
This really was a tough one for Charlie Morton. Over the course of the year he has struggled with that one bad inning but has sprinkled in some really outstanding starts. Last night was one of those outstanding starts. He allowed one hit over seven innings while throwing only 84 pitches. Why did he only throw seven innings when he might have went the complete game in under 100 pitches? Well, that is because he had to be yanked in the top of that eighth inning. With two outs and the bases loaded Clint Hurdle had to make the decision, to leave Morton in to hit or to pinch hit. He made the right call letting Gregory Polanco hit but he struck out in a pretty ugly at bat. Morton's night was done.
Morton has really been figuring it out as the season has gone along. The evolution of his curveball as an out pitch to both right and left handed hitters is something he never had before and he was making a pretty good Cardinals lineup look awfully silly last night. He can throw that curveball to the back foot of left handed hitters and throw it on the black to right handed hitters on the inside part of the plate. It was pretty disgusting last night and it adds a whole different dimension to his arsenal.
Tony Watson came out and threw five pitches in the eighth but for some reason he was not allowed to come out and throw to Matt Adams in the ninth inning. Justin Wilson came in and Adams walked it off. I know that Watson isn't used to pitching multiple innings but I am pretty sure he could stand to go out there and throw 10 more pitches in the ninth. I like Wilson a lot but Watson is your go-to guy and just because he threw five pitches in the inning prior doesn't mean he is automatically done. Mind you that Mark Melancon wasn't used, I assume, because the Pirates were on the road and there was still a chance for a save situation. Because that makes sense in 2014.
That really wasn't the problem though. The offense was the problem last night. The Brewers had lost earlier in the night and the Pirates had a chance to make a game up in the division. I am not overly worried because Wainwright is good and the Pirates offense has been good, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a tough pill to swallow watching the Cardinals walk off with a win.