Waino's 4 RBIs help Cardinals tie for top Wild Card
By Ben Weinrib and Owen Perkins
DENVER -- Behind a career-high four RBIs from Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals moved into a three-way tie for the top National League Wild Card spot with a 10-4 victory over the Rockies on Tuesday night at Coors Field. St. Louis, San Francisco and the New York Mets are all 80-71 with 11 games left in the regular season.
"I've been saving my RBIs up for this year," Wainwright said. "I'm doing whatever it takes to help this team win. In a park like this, in a place that no lead is safe, if a pitcher can go up there and push something across and help the team get a run, get four runs, whatever, you're doing your job."
The Cardinals pummeled Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa for eight runs (seven earned) over 4 2/3 innings in what may likely be his final start with the franchise. Manager Walt Weiss said it would be De La Rosa's last start of the season, and the lefty will be eligible for free agency this offseason.
"De La seemed like he didn't have great command of the secondary stuff," Weiss said. "The changeup is usually his best weapon, but he had a hard time throwing strikes with it. They were laying off it. He got in some difficult counts."
Matt Adams got St. Louis on the board in the second with a homer to right field, and Wainwright helped his cause with a two-run double three batters later. Jedd Gyorko added a two-run homer in the fifth, which Statcast™ projected to travel 452 feet. De La Rosa was chased when Randal Grichuk doubled in Adams in the frame. Reliever Eddie Butler couldn't stop the bleeding, as Wainwright picked up two more RBIs on a single to right-center.
Wainwright earned his 12th win despite giving up a career-high-tying three home runs. Daniel Descalso went deep in the fourth, Charlie Blackmon homered in the fifth, and Gerardo Parra ended Wainwright's night with a homer in the sixth.
"Charlie's ball, most hitters hit that ball foul, but he's a great hitter," Wainwright said. "He did a great job keeping that ball fair. He doesn't have many holes. Kudos to him. The other ones are not the pitch I'm trying to make. I attribute that to a lack of focus on my part. When I'm grinding and focused like I need to be, that wouldn't happen."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Damage down in the lineup: Adams' solo shot in the second inning opened an inning the Rockies never recovered from. From Adams through Wainwright, four batters reached base, with three of them scoring. De La Rosa walked one and hit two batters in the inning, and after a two-run double from the pitcher, the Cardinals never relented. Six of the eight runs against De La Rosa came from the bottom four hitters in the lineup.
"That's the conversation going on in the dugout: keep going, because anything can happen in a hurry here," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Just keep taking good at-bats. Even some guys who didn't have a lot of hits still had productive at-bats. Moving guys over, hitting the ball hard. The big home run by Jedd. Getting guys into a good frame of mind. Hopefully it's one of those things we can ride for a while."
Leadoff power: Blackmon's homer gave him the franchise record for RBIs (75) at the leadoff spot, eclipsing first-base coach Eric Young's 74 in 1996. Blackmon continues to tear through September by going 1-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored and a walk. Overall, he is slashing .340/.426/.755 with five homers in 14 games this month. This comes after slashing .360/.408/.730 in August with 11 home runs, which is five more than his previous high for a month. More >
"Mostly, I just want to have good at-bats and get on base," Blackmon said. "But I think this year, I've been a little more aggressive in certain situations. Obviously, I think it's really important to be good with runners on base, so RBIs really, I can't do much unless I've got guys out in front of me. As a team, we've been doing a good job."
Four more: Wainwright wasn't the only one setting career highs at the plate. Grichuk scored a career-high four runs and is riding a 14-start streak of reaching base safely. He is hitting .333 (16-for-48) with a .375 OBP during the streak, adding three hits and two doubles in four at-bats on Tuesday.
"He was fouling off some good pitches too," Matheny said. "Reached to foul off a tough cutter that last at bat. He did go down swinging, but all in all, I see him trusting himself a little more."
Youngsters show up: Several Rockies rookies got to show off at the end of the game, notably reliever Matt Carasiti and center fielder Raimel Tapia. Carasiti tossed a scoreless inning with one strikeout. After posting a 1.96 ERA between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque, Carasiti has struggled to a 12.34 ERA in 14 big league games. Tapia drove in the final run of the night on a single to right field, which raised his average to .290.
"It was good to see Carasiti have an inning like that," Weiss said. "He had such an outstanding year at the Minor League level. He was dominant at the Minor League level, but he struggled up here. It's good to see Matt have an inning like that. That's the type of thing he's capable of doing. He's got big weapons.
"The kids swung the bat. ... Tapia gets the RBI single. That's the thing about September. You get to see some of these young kids, and they've done a nice job."
"I don't have enough starts to get [my ERA] down in the 2s like I want to be. I don't have enough starts to get to 20 wins like I want to be. But I have a chance to help this team win a World Series. And if that's offensively, winning a Silver Slugger along the way, hopefully, then that's great. I don't really care. As long as I pitch well down the stretch, pitch well in the postseason, and get that ring, I couldn't care less." -- Wainwright, on contributing to the playoff push
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Wainwright now has 18 RBIs on the season -- the most for a pitcher since Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins drove in 20 for the Cubs in 1971.
COLE HIT IN BATTING PRACTICE
Rockies third-base coach Stu Cole was sent to the hospital after being struck in the head by a ricocheted ball while he was throwing batting practice. Tests came back negative, and he returned to Coors Field during the game. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: Right-hander Luke Weaver (1-3, 3.21 ERA) will start the series finale on Wednesday at 2:10 p.m. CT. Weaver has a 1.50 ERA in two home starts and a 4.15 ERA in five road starts. It will be his first appearance at Coors Field. He was lifted in the third inning of his last start in San Francisco after giving up six unearned runs in the frame.
Rockies: Right-hander German Marquez (0-0, 5.06) will make his first Major League start against the Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. MT. Marquez has issued four walks in three relief appearances spanning 5 1/3 innings with just three strikeouts. He was named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year with a 2.85 ERA over 135 2/3 innings for Double-A Hartford.