ST. LOUIS -- After providing a glimpse of how he might utilize Adam Wainwright in Friday's National League Division Series opener, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny deployed his newest bullpen weapon to try to keep his club within striking distance on Saturday.
Wainwright, after running in to a standing ovation from the Busch Stadium sellout crowd, retired all five batters he faced, though the Cardinals still dropped Game 2, 6-3, to the Cubs.
"Those moments [like] today, you never ever, ever forget those kinds of things," Wainwright said afterward. "That was just so special. The crowd embraced me. Hair was standing up on my arms like crazy, with chill bumps, when the gate opened and they started going crazy. I was trying to do my very best to control my emotions. But they get to me sometimes."
The reception was generated for a pitcher who had already done the unthinkable -- come back from an Achilles procedure assigned a 9-12-month recovery time in just five months. It was Wainwright's first home appearance since he made his season debut out of the bullpen on Sept. 30.
"He looked great," Matheny said. "His curveball was there, everything [was] right on the mark, and [he] got the strikeouts that we needed. [It was] just a great step in a good direction for him and his progress."
Summoned into a seventh-inning spot with runners on the corners and one out, Wainwright used his defense to corral two well-struck balls and wiggle out of the jam. He then struck out the side in the eighth.
It was Wainwright's 10th career postseason relief appearance, but his first since he was a rookie reliever closing games for a 2006 team that captured a World Series championship. Wainwright moved into rare company on Saturday, too, as one of just five pitchers in Major League postseason history to not allow a run in at least 11 innings out of the 'pen.
"My stuff is good," Wainwright said. "I should probably have located some things a little bit better. But at this point in the game, zeros are zeros, and that's really all that matters. I'll try to get sharper even next time."
Saturday was the first multiple-inning test Wainwright has had since returning. He speculated he could likely go as long as three innings, if needed, though the Cardinals are going to remain flexible with how they use him. To them, he's a versatile option who will be unfazed by any stage. On Friday, for instance, he was ready as a backup to closer Trevor Rosenthal.
"There is no position you can put me in on the mound that I haven't been through," Wainwright said. "At some point in time, whether I'm young or I'm old, I've done it, and it helps me. I've been there. I can draw on those moments. I don't get nervous as a pitcher. It's very rare that I get nervous.