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Cardinals can't afford for Adam Wainwright to be injured

A lot of folks seem to be upset by the lopsided score in the Cardinals loss Wednesday night to the Cincinnati Reds.

While I was hopeful that the Redbirds would sweep Cincinnati and push the Reds even farther back in the standings, I wasn't really concerned about the margin of victory. The goal is to win series. To that end, I don't care if the Cardinals win two games of a series 1-0 and lose the third by 100.

What concerns me is that Adam Wainwright made what was easily the worst start of his career in his first game on the mound after he was allowed to throw 128 pitches in one contest.

Wainwright wasn't mediocre. He was helpless -- a disturbing turn of events for a guy who was on the short list for Cy Young Award consideration. He was pounded early and often. He couldn't even retire Cincinnati pitcher Homer Bailey -- a career .164 hitter -- to end a first inning in which the Reds scored six runs. Bailey worked the count full and then stroked a solid line drive right back up the middle to prolong the misery.

I sure hope that Wainwright was just tired. He seemed late coming out of the bullpen before the game, an indication that he might have had trouble getting loose. Sometimes pitchers just don't have it. But Wainwright has NEVER been pounded like he was last night. Not even close.

In short, if the Cardinals unnecessary and reckless move to let Wainwright -- a pitcher who is a season and a half removed from Tommy John surgery -- pitch so long for the sake of winning one game results in Wainwright being injured, the Cardinals are sunk.

Who would St. Louis start in a potential wild card game if Wainwright can't go? Rookie Shelby Miller? Second year pitcher Joe Kelly or struggling third year hurler Lance Lynn? Don't even say Jake Westbrook.

If Wainwright is healthy, the bright side of the Wednesday disaster is that he was able to get out of the game early and rest his pitching arm a little bit. If Wainwright hurt himself, there is no bright side.