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4:35 AM UTC
CINCINNATI — Adam Wainwright is about as good-natured and positive of a player as there is in Major League Baseball with his distinct ability to find a silver lining in almost any storm cloud that hovers over the Cardinals.
So after earning career win No. 197 by surviving 5 2/3 innings of eight-hit, five-run ball in the Cards’ 8-5 victory over the Reds on Tuesday night, Wainwright was ready to push aside all those years of frustration from pitching at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park and spew some syrupy-sweet positivity, right? Right, Waino?
“I gave up too many extra-base hits, but that’s because this place is from the devil,” Wainwright, who entered Tuesday with a 5.73 ERA in 22 career outings (20 starts) at Great American Ball Park — easily the worst of his career at any park where he’s made more than two starts, said in all seriousness. “There’s a curse on this place, a deadly curse.
“Every year coming here, I’m like, ‘Screw that [poor past]. I’m not giving in to that, and I’m not that mentally weak where a park can get into my head.’ And every year I leave here saying, ‘This is the devil’s lair.’ Today, I went into it saying, ‘I’ve had a bad history here. Today is a new day, and it’s really hard to hit a baseball.’ I came in with such a positive attitude, and it’s still the devil’s lair.”
Wainwright was able to avoid another frustration-filled night in Cincinnati when the Cardinals scored seven runs in the first four innings and eight total against the Reds. Paul Goldschmidt hit two home runs for his third multihomer game of the season.
Tommy Edman mostly gave up switch-hitting for a night, hitting right-handed in three at-bats against Cincinnati’s bevy of righties and registering a triple, a double and three RBIs. In all, St. Louis had 12 hits and won for the 12th time in the past 16 games even though Nolan Arenado was ejected in the third inning.
“[Edman] has done a nice job right-on-right and picking his spots to hit right-handed. And overall, we’re getting production from a lot of guys, and today was a good one,” said manager Oliver Marmol, who also was ejected while trying to protect Arenado. “There’s a combination of things we’re looking at [when Edman is deciding whether to bat right- or left-handed]. It’s fairly unusual, because you usually base it off handedness. But if there are things that give him trouble from the left side, we flip it and go right-on-right. Today was a good day for it.”
It was also a good day for Wainwright, who used a 10-pitch first inning and a six-pitch fourth inning to go deeper than he had in two of his three previous starts. That came as a relief to the Cardinals, whose bullpen is taxed amid a stretch of 25 games in 25 days. Even when acting manager Joe McEwing came out to get the ball from the 41-year-old Wainwright in the sixth, the 18-year veteran argued to stay in.
“I don’t know if I can have any more [respect] for him with all he’s done in his career, but he works extremely hard, and he still wants to win as much as anyone — even with as much as he’s accomplished,” Goldschmidt said of Wainwright. “I don’t think that fire with him ever goes away. We saw it with the two guys who retired last year [in Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina]. We’re all just trying to follow their lead.”
Wainwright left with the lead in the sixth inning after having to pitch around traffic all night. He gave up a home run and four doubles — two of them with two outs after a Cincinnati batter hit a bloop single to extend the frame. Immediately, Wainwright pointed to the place where he now owns a gaudy 5.83 ERA: Great American Ball Park. Of Wainwright’s 197 career wins, just 11 have come against the division rival Reds, the only team he has a losing record against with multiple decisions (11-17).
“It’s because this is the devil’s lair, and his tent is out there on the field right now,” said Wainwright, who mentioned former Red Todd Frazier once hitting a home run when he threw his bat at the ball. “I really feel bad for the pitchers who have to pitch here every five days.”
Even though he is headed for retirement after this season, Wainwright said there is one baseball-related event he wants to come back for. Of course, it involves Great American Ball Park and its demolition years, if not decades from now.
“I would like to press the button,” he said. “I will be here for that.”