Cardinals' Miller, Wainwright join exclusive club with complete-game shutouts
Friday night, Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller went out and tossed one of the best games of the season, allowing just a single hit over nine innings while striking out 13 and walking none in a win over Colorado. Apparently, St. Louis teammate Adam Wainwright took Miller's performance as a challenge.
On Saturday, Wainwright was perfect through 4 1/3 innings and kept the Rockies hitless until the eighth inning, when Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado singled with one out in the frame. Wainwright went ahead and finished what he started, allowing just one more base hit—a Dexter Fowler single in the ninth—before wrapping up the complete-game shutout in St. Louis' 3-0 victory. His final line: nine innings, two hits, no runs allowed, one walk and seven strikeouts.
Wainwright's performance was a gem, with the Cardinals' ace mixing power with punishing offspeed offerings to flummox the Rockies. In 120 pitches, Wainwright launched 45 four-seamers and sinkers, averaging 90-92 mph and hitting 95, adding in a devastating curveball that frequently dropped in the strike zone or got weak waves from Colorado's hitters. All told, Wainwright tossed 120 pitches, 88 for strikes, and never threw more than 19 pitches in any inning.
The terrific tandem effort by Miller and Wainwright landed the duo in some exclusive company, as they became the 20th pair of pitchers since 1916 to record back-to-back complete-game shutouts allowing two hits or fewer. It was the first time two starters had pulled the trick since 2002, when Pedro Astacio and Jeff D'Amico did it for the Mets against the Dodgers. Astacio took the mound on May 14 and went the distance, allowing two hits, two walks and striking out nine. The next day, D'Amico put together almost exactly the same line, with two hits, two walks and eight strikeouts in the win.
Miller and Wainwright also became the third pair of Cardinals to accomplish the feat, joining Bob Gibson and Ray Washburn (May 2 and 3, 1967), and Von McDaniel and the amazingly named Vinegar Bend Mizell (July 28 and 29, 1957). On top of that, Miller and Wainwright are only the third duo to toss a complete-game shutout with two hits or fewer and one walk or fewer each. McDaniel and Mizell didn't walk a batter in their starts. The other pair was Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald on July 17 and 18, 1992—Mussina threw a one-hitter with one walk and 10 strikeouts, and McDonald followed with a two-hitter with a walk and five strikeouts.
Back to the present: Miller's and Wainwright's performances are obviously good news for the Cardinals, who with the win Saturday have now taken eight of their last nine and own baseball's best record at 23-12. They can thank arguably the top rotation in baseball for that: Every Cardinals starter has an ERA comfortably below 3.00, with Miller leading the pack at 1.58 in 45.2 innings. That comes out to an eye-popping 237 ERA+ for Miller, the sixth-best mark in MLB. Historical stats provided by Baseball-Reference's Play Index; Wainwright's pitch information courtesy BrooksBaseball.net.