One day after St. Louis Cardinals rookie sensation Shelby Miller retired 27 straight Colorado Rockies en route to a one-hitter, Adam Wainwright nearly tossed a no-hitter in his own right. His bid was broken up in the eighth inning, but his dominance and Colorado's incompetence are something to behold.
The dynamic pitching tandem combined to retire 40 consecutive batters, which matched a Major League Baseball record, according to MLB.com's Paul Casella.
Despite the fact that the Rockies are the highest-scoring team in the National League this season with 169 runs and boast stars such as Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, Wainwright and Miller somehow managed to make Colorado look like a little league team.
After allowing a leadoff single to Eric Young Jr. on Friday night, Miller was perfect throughout the rest of the game. Wainwright added to that by carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Rockies rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado spoiled things with a one-out single. Wainwright also allowed a hit to Dexter Fowler in the ninth inning to finish with a two-hit complete game.
According to MLB.com, the Rockies were hitless in 50 plate appearances between Young's single on Friday night and Arenado's base knock on Saturday afternoon. Although Wainwright was unable to punctuate it with a no-hitter, he and Miller registered two of the most dominant performances in the league this season—back to back.
Not only did Wainwright and Miller combine to allow a mere three singles and one walk, but they also struck out a total of 20 Rockies. Miller punched out 13 and Wainwright added seven, so it isn't as if Colorado was getting unlucky. There were plenty of swings and misses, which means both Miller and Wainwright had electric stuff.
MLB has a long and storied history, so it's possible that a team has struggled more than the Rockies at the plate over two consecutive games, but Rockies announcer Drew Goodman has never seen anything like it.
#rockies shutout again 3-0...Wainwright no hitter for 7 1/3...two most dominant performances back-back I've ever seen..— Drew Goodman (@ROOTSPORTS_DG) May 11, 2013
It would be easy to pile on the Rockies at this point, but Miller and Wainwright have arguably formed the best one-two pitching punch in the league this season. Miller is 5-2 with a sparkling 1.58 ERA, while Wainwright is 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA. They have been turning in great performances since the beginning of the year and just happened to pitch their best two days in a row against the same club.
If it wasn't already apparent, it is now clear that Wainwright is fully back from the Tommy John surgery that sidelined him two years ago. He wasn't the same pitcher last year, finishing 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA, but he has returned to ace status.
Wainwright added to his already-impressive career numbers on Saturday, as it was his third career two-hit shutout and sixth shutout overall, according to the Cardinals' official Twitter feed.
Adam Wainwright's 13th career complete game, 6th career shutout and third career two-hit shutout (low-hit ShO).— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 11, 2013
As for the Rockies, it's safe to say that they'll need to turn things around quickly in order to remain in the mix in the competitive NL West. The Rockies trail the San Francisco Giants by 2.5 games with a record of 19-17, as they have lost four consecutive games and are 3-7 over their past 10 contests. It isn't yet time to hit the panic button, but the Rockies can't afford to continue playing this way.
Colorado is above .500 because of its hitting, but that hasn't been apparent over the past two games. The Rockies simply don't have the pitching necessary to thrive when the bats go cold, and there obviously isn't a pitcher in the world who can win games when they receive absolutely no run support.
Which is the bigger story?
The Cardinals are set to host the Rockies again on Sunday afternoon, and lefty Jaime Garcia will be on the mound for St. Louis. He has been spectacular this season, just like Miller and Wainwright, and is 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA. He relies on pitching to contact more than striking hitters out, so the Rockies will have every opportunity to break out of their slump.
If the past two days are any indication, though, Colorado could be in for more headaches on Sunday. Miller allowed one hit on Friday, and Wainwright gave up just two on Saturday. Is a three-hitter in the cards for Garcia?
It's highly unlikely, but the highest-scoring team in the National League totaling three hits in two days was unlikely as well. The Rockies are used to playing in thin air in Colorado, but they are on the brink of reaching rarefied air if their hitting woes go on any longer.
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