Adam Wainwright pitched a complete game in a 5-3 victory on Sunday to improve to three wins on the season.
Combined with pitching 24 innings coupled with 22 strikeouts, he's certainly on track to improve on his 2009 campaign and to win yet another Cy Young Award.
However, caution does need to tame expectations of the Georgia native as he showed kinks in his proverbial armor. However, he is clearly among the pitching elite and trying to find flaws in his game is almost reserved for nit-picking.
For one, his fastball was not as near as dominant as it had been in his last start. Chalk that up to just an off night, but that pitch needs to be Wainwright's "out" pitch as the season progresses. He cannot rely solely on his curveball, no matter how outstanding it may be.
One other flaw was his atrocious throw to first base during the second inning after a relay throw from outfielder Ryan Ludwick landed off target after an Angel Pagan hit. Wainwright's throw soared over Albert Pujols' head back towards foul territory.
Closer examination showed that Wainwright actually slipped during the throw causing him to throw the ball way off target.
That was all the Mets needed to proceed to score three runs during the inning. It would be all New York would muster against the reigning 2009 Cy Young winner.
Wainwright seemed to shut down the Mets as the game progressed past the second inning as he struck out nine batters in just over 100 pitches. Despite his fastball becoming sub-par, his change-up and curveball were nearly untouchable.
It was clearly evident as Mets third basemen David Wright was extremely late even waiting the breaking balls. Wainwright is truly the culmination of what a relief pitcher can become with time, work, and the right coaching.
As Wainwright was continuing to hold New York at bay, the Cardinals offense was biding their time until the fifth inning. Outfielder Colby Rasmus cranked a three-run blast off Mets starter John Maine to tie up the contest.
Rasmus had been struggling during the Cardinals home-stand and it was his first hit during that time. He joined Matt Holliday in the hit parade as he collected three hits himself after being forced to sit with illness back on Friday.
Albert Pujols was rendered hitless but hit several long balls to the deepest parts of the outfield. It was just not his night.
However, tonight was the night for Ryan Ludwick.
After personally contributing to the anemic offense during the 20-inning decathlon on Saturday with base-running blunders, he made up for it a big way Sunday.
Ludwick cranked a two-out, two-run home run against New York's Ryota Igarashi in the eighth inning to push the Redbirds over the top and procure the lead for Wainwright.
Wainwright himself started the rally in the eighth inning with a double down the left field line, helping himself out in the process.
It was Ludwick's first home run of the season and it came at just the right time.
Coming into the season with a .242 batting average, Wainwright was certainly an above average hitter for being a pitcher. He flashed the bat, along with the glove, on this night.
Wainwright would not look back after that. He finished off what was left of the Mets and completed what he started.
Information attributed to MLB.com