Cheap Seats

Cardinals win as Wainwright, Grichuk continue to struggle

The St. Louis Cardinals got an important win Wednesday night over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After struggling to stay above the .500 mark for the past couple of weeks, the Redbirds notched their fourth victory in five games to improve to 12-9.

So there is a lot of good stuff going on in Cardinals Nation... But I still don’t like what I’m seeing from Adam Wainwright.

The struggling St. Louis ace gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings, three of them on a pair of towering home runs.

When St. Louis took the lead in the top of the sixth -- helped by Wainwright’s bases-clearing triple -- I hoped managed Mike Matheny would lift the ace from the game and give him something positive to build on for his next start. Or at least I wished Matheny would send Wainwright back out on a very short leash. One baserunner and I would have yanked him like a bad tooth.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and Wainwright had to be rescued with the tying run in the on-deck circle in an inning he started with a 7-2 lead.

Fortunately, the bullpen was up to the task and quieted things down to help Wainwright salvage a win that made his record 1-3. But through five starts, the ace hasn’t turned in one game in which he looked like anything more than a shadow of himself.

It’s still the same script: He gives up a lot of solid contact -- and way too many homers -- thanks to pitches up in the zone and a hanging version of his signature curveball.

I’m starting to become concerned this in much more than rust. He’s 34 and has a history of health problems... I guess all Redbird rooters can do is hope for the best.

This is exactly the concern I had when the Birds came up short in their bid for free agent David Price. The have a lot of good pitching. But they don’t have another guy who is ready to step up and be The Man.

Price would have been that twin tower to Wainwright. A position that Chris Carpenter previously held. The ultimate goal is to have both of them healthy and productive at the same time. But the odds are at least one of them will be there to lead the charge. Price would have been ready to take the baton to be the ace.

Mike Leake, the pitcher the Cardinals landed when they wouldn’t match a late bid from the Boston Red Sox for Price, isn’t the ace type. In fact, if Wainwright was healthy, there would be no argument that Leake is the weakest of St. Louis’ five starters.

I’m not saying he’s a BAD pitcher. But he’s not as good as Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez or a healthy Jaime Garcia.

I still can’t figure out why it made more sense to let Price walk over $20 million and then sign Leake for $80 million. I would have much preferred signing Price and making Tyler Lyons the fifth starter for fifth starter money.

On the bright side, the Cardinals continued to see the office wake up with Stephen Piscotty shaking off an early season funk to go 4-for-5 and raise his batting average to .305 for the young season.

Aledmys Diaz somehow managed to RAISE his .466 average coming into the game to .468 with a 2-for-4 night.

Randal Grichuk still looks lost, however. He was hitless in four at-bats to fall to .203 on the season.

Hopefully, the Cardinals can get another good performance from Wacha Thursday night and keep their hot streak going. Then they make the cross-country flight to return home to face the Washington Nationals over the weekend at Busch Stadium.

After a clunker of a season debut, Wacha has allowed 15 hits over 18 innings in his last three starts. That’s helped him to a 1.50 ERA in those games. He hasn’t allowed a homer in his last three starts and, while his strikeout rate is depressed, he’s still fanned three times as many as he’s walked since that time.