The last thing that you’d think would rule a weekend between the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies would be pitching. But not only was that the case, it was a historical level of pitching effectiveness. Between Shelby Miller, Adam Wainwright and Jorge De La Rosa, 21 complete hitless innings were tossed, and in the two of the starts, no-hitters were far from speculative; they were within grasp of being real.
The Cardinals took home the first two games of the series behind the masterful performances of their ace in the making and current rotation captain, before not being able to mount any offense until a very overdue Rockies lineup took control of game three. Yet, the Cardinals still won their third out of their last four series, and continue to keep a share of the best record in baseball at 23-13. Here’s three points to how they made that possible.
1. Once in a Century Shelby: Shelby Miller, a veteran of a mere eight career starts, is beginning to make everyone take notice that the hype was well worth it. On Friday night he authored one of the greatest starts in not only Cardinal, but baseball history. After surrendering a base hit to lead the game off, he shut the door for the rest of the evening and retired the next 27 Rockies to hold down a 3-0 win. And while he didn’t join the ranks of the no-hit or Perfect Game club, but he did dominate in a way that no pitcher has since at least 1900. His nine-inning, one hit effort, with no walks and at least 13 strikeouts was a one of a kind feat that no other pitcher has done. His record improved to 5-2, and his ERA on the season now sits at 1.58, the third best mark in the Majors.
2. Weekend Warrior: Adam Wainwright is usually not one to be outdone, and he nearly wasn’t. A day after Miller’s masterpiece, Waino continued the Rockies woes by keeping them off-base until a fifth inning Todd Helton walk, a streak of 50 consecutive batters. Nolan Arenado broke up the no-hit bid in the eighth inning, which ended a remarkable shutdown streak by the two Cardinal hurlers. The 49 consecutive hitless at-bats was the longest streak in 29 years. For Wainwright, his impressive weekend work at home continued: he now has two complete game shutouts, surrendering only six hits and one walk against 19 strikeouts.
3. Against the odds: Jaime Garcia’s home dominance is well known; his 2.41 ERA entering Sunday was the best in the history at Busch Stadium III. Yet for his career against the Rockies, he has sported his worst performance against any team, with an 0-3 record and an ERA of 10.53 to drive it home. Sunday’s performance wasn’t his worst, but he caught a mixture of the law of averages coming back around (Colorado is the NL’s best hitting team on the season), as well as a couple of bad situations. Troy Tulowitzki is one of the worst batters possible catch in the middle of the perfect storm of both issues the team was facing before hitting his third inning, three run homer (0 for the series, five strikeouts). Add in the fact that Jorge De La Rosa turned in a matching performance to the two Cardinal starters the day before nearly, and it wasn’t in the cards for Garcia in finishing up the sweep.