Adam Wainwright. (Getty Images Sport)
ST. LOUIS (Springfield News-Leader) - Being at ease in baseball usually is a good recipe for success. In that regard, the St. Louis Cardinals should feel pretty good about their starting pitcher today.
Right-hander Adam Wainwright did an about-face during his news conference Wednesday, turning from dead serious before knocking 'em dead in the interview room.
Asked why the Cardinals seem to win games when he pitches poorly and lose when he's dominated - that was the case in his two starts in the Division Series - Wainwright turned it into a comedy club.
"The last game, I completely choked. It was all part of my plan. You lose the first two and you're pitching great, you've got to wake the team up," Wainwright said, drawing laughs from a baker's dozen of reporters. "I don't want them out there sitting back on their heels. I purposely went out and pitched terribly to be unselfish."
Game time tonight is 7:07 p.m.
Wainwright struck out 10 in 52/3 innings of the Division Series opener, a loss. In Game 5 against the Nationals, he was tagged for six runs and was lifted after four innings.
But the right-hander enters today with success against the Giants. He is 1-1 with a 2.13 in two starts against San Francisco this season, covering 122/3 total innings.
His numbers aren't flashy, given he has almost as many hits allowed (11) as innings and almost as many walks (7) as strikeouts (8). But of six runs, he was charged with only three earned.
Left-hander Madison Bumgarner, the 23-year-old and 16-game winner who was roughed up in Game 2 of the NLCS, will be benched as Giants manager Bruce Bochy turns to Barry Zito in Game 5 on Friday night - a potential clinching opportunity for the Cardinals. Bumgarner threw 208 innings in the regular season.
Today, St. Louis faces right-hander Tim Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who has been a mystery this season (10-15, 5.18 ERA) and worked in relief in Game 1. Bochy revealed the two starters after the game.
"I held off naming them because, for example, with the rain, we could have used Timmy tonight if that thing goes extra innings and we get a little low on pitching," Bochy said.
Bochy acknowledged after the game that he may drop struggling Hunter Pence in his lineup, saying 'We'll talk about that. But again, those guys are a big reason why we're here." Pence is batting 1-for-11 in the series.
St. Louis' Matt Holliday and Allen Craig, who combined for 194 RBIs this season, are a combined 2-for-21 in the NLCS so far.
One of the key outs Wednesday was handled by Trevor Rosenthal, who was with Double-A Springfield as recently as July 15. He got a ground-ball out in the sixth in relief of Kyle Lohse.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the sixth time this postseason that the right-hander registered an out on a 100-mph pitch. He did so three times in the big leagues this year.
"I knew it was a huge situation, but I just tried to approach it like every situation I've been in this year and being focused every pitch," Rosenthal said.
Hey, Mr. Robinson
Among the 16 former Springfield Cardinals on the playoff roster is Shane Robinson, who delivered a big pinch-groundout in the seventh inning Wednesday and allowed David Freese to score safely with St. Louis' third run. Robinson played for Springfield in 2008, batting .352, and also spent 37 games with the club late last season as part of an injury rehab assignment.