ST. LOUIS -- The year 1968 has long been termed the 'Year of the Pitcher' as it was a season in which 20 teams combined for 338 shutouts and now Hall-of-Famer Bob Gibson posted a 1.12 ERA for the Cardinals. It also led to the lowering of the mound -- from 15 inches to 10 inches -- in order to initiate a bit more parity.
The Cardinals combined for 30 shutouts that season, a number never approached since. However, this year's staff earned a feather in its cap on Wednesday night when, with a 2-0 victory over the Brewers, it secured the club's 21st shutout of 2014. It's the most by any Cardinals staff since that '68 team.
"We challenged each other in Spring Training this year -- Who is going to step up and be the man?" Adam Wainwright said after throwing his fifth complete game of the season. "Every fifth day, we have guys out there who are wanting to go do that. I think with Lance [Lynn] and Shelby [Miller], those two young guys going out and pitching the way they have all year, it's been fun to watch. You add a couple great veterans to your staff, we have a great staff."
The 21 shutouts equals the Rays for the most in the Majors. Wainwright has started 11 of them, two fewer than Gibson did back in '68. Lynn is second on the staff with helping the Cardinals to four shutouts.
"Starting pitching has just been so strong for us, and we need them to stay with this," manager Mike Matheny said. "Adam has had an exceptional season and has been in the middle of a lot of those shutouts that we've seen. We needed him to come up big today, and that shouldn't be a surprise to us."
Wednesday night's gem by Wainwright lowered the staff's ERA to 3.54 in a season where the Cardinals have now not allowed a run in 25 percent of their victories.
"They are not afraid to pitch," catcher Yadier Molina said of the staff. "They go right after people and have some good talent. They obviously have good fastballs, and they're getting more experience. That's the key, I think. When you get more experience, you get confidence and [this is] what happens."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.