ST. LOUIS —
Wainwright allowed a run in seven innings in the opener and is 5-0 in his last six starts. The 19-game winner became the third pitcher in franchise history to twice lead the league in victories, joining Dizzy Dean and Mort Cooper. Wainwright embraces the role of ace he inherited from injured Chris Carpenter.
Last season was Wainwright’s first year back from reconstructive elbow surgery, and he described his stuff as “hit or miss.” He allowed six runs in 2 1-3 innings in Game 5 of the division series against the Nationals, then rebounded to beat San Francisco in Game 4 of the NL championship series.
“This year I have all the confidence in the world in my stuff,” Wainwright said. “It’s a completely different situation.”
Wainwright leans on advice injured closer Jason Isringhausen gave him in 2006 — just breathe. Then a rookie, Wainwright got the final out in the NLCS and the World Series. He said the bullpen experience taught him the “urgency of each pitch.”
“Going out there and getting a guy out one time like it’s going to be the last time you ever face him, that’s the mentality I took into starting,” Wainwright said. “I have to give it everything I’ve got every pitch until they take the ball from me.”
Cole made a dazzling postseason debut in Game 2, when he retired 11 consecutive hitters. Now that they’ve seen him, the Cardinals expect to have more success against him.
“I think it’s going to help big-time,” Matt Adams said. “We’re going to know how the ball’s coming out of his hand and know what his tendencies are.”
Of course, Cole has seen them, too.
“So it’s just going to come down to executing a handful of pitches, being able to hit the spot or execute the pitch when I need to,” Cole said.