The St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in Game 5 of the National League Division Series yet again this year.
Just like 2012, they will turn to Adam Wainwright to lead them to victory and on to the National League Championship Series. Wainwright hopes to put the team in a position to win instead of the team overcoming a poor start like what occurred last year.
The Cardinals are no stranger to elimination games. They are even more familiar with playing the fifth game of a NLDS. Over the past two seasons, the Cardinals have produced a dominant pitching performance and a come-from-behind victory in Game 5.
The dominant pitching performance belonged to Chris Carpenter, the former ace of the Cardinals who now finds himself a spectator and cheerleader from the dugout. His 2011 performance against Roy Halladay, the ace of the Philadelphia Phillies and Carpenter's good friend, was an instant classic.
Wainwright was unable to follow in his mentor's footsteps the following season, however. Wainwright took the mound against the Washington Nationals in 2012 and would exit the game in the third inning. Three home runs, six runs, and seven hits would chase the ace to the dugout to watch the remainder of the game. The rest of the team refused to give up and the Cardinals fought their way back to take the game and move on to the NLCS.
Derrick Goold of StlToday.com checked in with Adam Wainwright during a Tuesday afternoon optional workout at Busch Stadium. Wainwright made it clear that he was feeling relaxed when he took the opportunity to joke about last year's disastrous outing:
"I'm a motivator, so I knew that day that I was going to need to go out and pitch bad for our team to really get some mojo flowing," Wainwright said, grinning.
Adam Wainwright was recovering from Tommy John surgery and finding his way in 2012. At times, his season would show the flare of the ace pitcher the Cardinals hoped would return. At others, he reminded the team and the fans that he was still finding his groove. He shared some thoughts on that with Goold as well:
This year is completely different than last year. I learned some valuable lessons last year. I persevered through some hard times. The fact of the matter is last year I pitched a good Game 1, a terrible Game 5, and a good Game 4 of the NLCS. There is no guarantee my stuff would have returned in the World Series had we even got there. That's just the truth of the matter. My stuff was hit or miss all year long.
Wainwright seems to have found that groove in 2013, posting a Cy Young-worthy season and being the leader the young pitching staff desperately needed throughout the season.
He now finds himself poised to lead this team one step further, into the next round of the playoffs and possibly beyond. He finds himself in position to exorcise the Game 5 demons from last season. He finds himself in the position to put the exclamation point on the statement that Michael Wacha made in Game 4.
The Cardinals and Wainwright wouldn't have it any other way.
Statistics in this article are sourced from Baseball-Reference.
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