Wainwright described this outing "marginally better" than his last after allowing three runs on six hits and three walks over six innings. He had an Opening Day scoreless-innings streak of 15 snapped by Pittsburgh's two-run second, and battled through the same timing issues that kept him from finishing Spring Training with crisp pitches and pinpoint command.
"I certainly got better as I went along, but I'm still a little off timing or something else," said Wainwright, who was making his fifth career Opening Day start "There's something that has not clicked in yet. I feel like I'm very close at times, but I'm going to be a lot better than that going forward."
Despite not meeting his own high standard, Wainwright was essentially a bloop and few ground balls away from an entirely different look to his line. Opposing starter Francisco Liriano snuck a single through the infield to plate Pittsburgh's first run, and a bloop single by John Jaso to follow added a second. Wainwright couldn't work around a leadoff triple in the sixth, either.
His curveball became sharper the deeper he went, and Wainwright described his cutter as "bigger and a little sloppier" than desired. That was one of the reasons he had a pitch count of 52 after three innings.
"You can look at the ground balls and the bloop hit, but when those things tighten up a little bit and I start making those good, quality pitches time after time, that's a popup to second and that's a ground ball to first and that's a ground ball to short," Wainwright said. "Those grounders end up going to people."
Because of a pair of upcoming off-days, Wainwright will have a full week to get himself right before next taking the mound.
"I'm not anywhere close to being excited about that stuff out there, but I'm on the right track," Wainwright said. "When you pitch against a quality pitcher like Liriano, you have to have your stuff rolling. And today, I was the definition of average, which is the opposite of what I expect to be."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.