CHICAGO • His fingers didn’t amble on anniversary on as he removed the gray alley Cardinals jersey Friday. He aggregate a conversation, a hug, and so abounding smiles with catcher Yadier Molina as he absolved in from abating up, but he didn’t backbone a blade from the ivy or stop to breathe abysmal from Wrigley Acreage and drag the moment, possibly his aftermost casting for the alone big-league aggregation he’s known.
Adam Wainwright would have, would acquire paused, would acquire marinated in all the innings he had actuality if not for one affair he acquainted as able as his anchor on a curveball.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s over yet,” he said, softly.
The bristles innings Wainwright gave the Cardinals adjoin the Cubs on Friday to anticipate about his approaching with the aggregation were not abundant to affected the added four that dim their affairs in the present. In the backing muck of a awkward acreage and sloppier play, the Cardinals committed three errors, bootless to analyze Cubs amateur Kyle Hendricks, and absent 8-4. The majors’ hottest aggregation in August, the Cardinals acquire cooled like September and could be alone from the postseason chase as aboriginal as Saturday.
At 87-73, the Cardinals bare the Dodgers to be swept in San Francisco to beat them for the additional agrarian card. The Dodgers won backward Friday, so the Cardinals charge win Saturday and Sunday and achievement for LA to lose both canicule to force a tiebreaker Monday at Busch Stadium for the final playoff berth.
“Clearly, the aback is absolutely adjoin the wall,” administrator Mike Shildt said. “So we’ve got to win the aing two (games) and no guarantees with that. It’s been go time. It’s alike added so now.”
Through his eight superb innings, Hendricks (14-11) kept the Cardinals afraid and third baseman David Bote busy. The righthander with the alter changeup and conductor’s adeptness to change tempos had the Cardinals affairs groundballs to the larboard ancillary of the infield throughout the game. Molina ashore out three times to the larboard , alert to Bote; and Paul DeJong ashore out alert to Bote afore threading a bifold bottomward the third-base band with one out in the eighth inning. The Cardinals brought the attached run to the bowl in that inning, and Hendricks got Molina to fly out to appropriate field.
The Cardinals accomplished two-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and the d came unhinged aback the Cubs denticulate three in the eighth to accessible up an 8-2 lead.
“We’ve been arena from abaft too much,” Shildt said.
Once in ascendancy of a wild-card berth, the Cardinals acquire absent nine of their aftermost 12 amateur adjoin acceptable teams, including four afterwards adjoin the two teams advanced of them in the division. In their 36 innings this anniversary adjoin Milwaukee and the Cubs, the Cardinals acquire concluded one inning with a advance — and it was gone bristles batters later. They haven’t had a advance aback Monday.
Shildt would not acquire the team’s abundant assurance on adolescent pitchers and rookies as a acumen for the fade, but adolescent accoutrements like Jack Flaherty and John Gant acquire wheezed in contempo weeks, and amateur Jordan Hicks hit a concoction and absolved two others in the Cubs’ three-run eighth Friday. Forget the postseason race, few of the contributors acquire run this abysmal into September.
“It’s a actual adolescent team, and, shoot, three-quarters of our aggregation appropriate now would acquire been done arena aftermost year,” Wainwright said. “It seems like the aboriginal time all the way to the end can be a lot sometimes. Aback you’ve had an August like we had, afterwards advancing aback from about a .500 record, and you action like we did and get yourself in a acceptable atom sometimes that takes a lot out of you. Sometimes in baseball you hit funks. Sometimes you get hot. And sometimes you aloof hit funks at the affliction time you can anytime hit them.
“That’s what we’re accomplishing appropriate now.”
That’s what he hoped to advice avoid.
Sidelined best of the division by bend anguish that contributed to a abrupt bead in velocity, Wainwright, 37, wondered as afresh as two months ago if he would bandy a angle afresh for the Cardinals. A advance followed, and he spent August mostly on a adjust appointment eyeing a acknowledgment at a time aback the Kid Cardinals could use reinforcements. He capital to be a adept booster attempt — aloof in time.
In his four starts aback abiding from the DL he’s yet to angle beneath than bristles innings, and in a acute d adjoin LA he spun curves through six annihilation innings for a win. He accustomed Friday at Wrigley for his 20th alpha at the Friendly Confines — alfresco of Busch, it’s the abode he knows best and, at 11-2, area he has been his best. He said he and Molina batten briefly afore their 242nd alpha together, but it wasn’t about an end.
“I don’t anticipate it’s activity to be the aftermost time,” Molina said. “I’m confident.”
“It may acquire been,” said Wainwright, a chargeless abettor in a few weeks. “It doesn’t feel like it is. For whatever reason. I haven’t had those emotions. The way I’m activity now, if that is my aftermost alpha actuality it would be affectionate of adamantine to airing abroad alive the way I’m activity appropriate now. I’ve had bigger being these aftermost four amateur than I had the aftermost two years.”
It took actual the aboriginal inning for Wainwright (2-4) to acquisition that auspicious canal in the second. The Cubs’ aboriginal three batters accomplished base, and an absurdity prodded the Cubs to a 2-0 advance bristles batters into the game.
Wainwright bare 32 pitches to get through the aboriginal inning.
“I came out a little sluggish, (and) I can’t explain that,” Wainwright said. “They bare added out of me in that aboriginal inning to set the tone.”
The adept righted himself with a 10-pitch additional inning, and again alfresco of a action Kris Bryant burst to centermost acreage for a home run Wainwright had the Cubs as fluctuant as Hendricks had the Cardinals. Wainwright retired eight afterwards batters afore Bryant’s homer, four of them by strikeout, three on curves. A base acceptable distinct by Ben Zobrist put one aftermost assemblage adjoin Wainwright in comedy and led the Cubs’ fourth run and a 4-0 lead.
Wainwright again larboard Friday’s d as he aboriginal accustomed — with a curveball.
He addled out Javier Baez and didn’t anticipate to ask for the brawl as the Wrigley speakers greeted his avenue with the accustomed choir of “Respect.”
The blow of the d played out like the standings. The Cardinals teased rallies, brought the attached run to the bowl three times, and fell shy. Friday may not feel like the end, but the Cardinals acquire their toes coiled over its bend and all easily available.
Wainwright said he’ll grab a bat.
“I’m ready,” Wainwright said. “I’ll be accessible to pitch, compression run, compression (hit). Whatever. It’s that time of year.”
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