The St. Louis Cardinals hit their MLB record 15th pinch-hit home run last night when Matt Carpenter hit a game-tying blast in the top of the ninth against Pittsburgh Pirates closer Tony Watson. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright joined The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday and talked about how having such a powerful bench can be difficult for some.
“We have a very deep roster that makes it tough for Mike Matheny sometimes to figure out who he wants to play,” Wainwright said. “Because we have so many guys who are capable of hitting the ball out of the park, driving the ball to all fields.”
Having played in the big leagues since 2005, Wainwright said the overall depth of power on this team is the best he’s ever seen on one club in his career.
“You might have one thumper here or there on your bench or there’s been teams that I’ve been on in the past here that you’re going, gosh, ok, we’re going to have to put together two or three hits because we don’t really have any power off the bench. That’s certainly not true with this team,” Wainwright said. “This team has the most power that I’ve ever seen a team have. It’s pretty remarkable. We have guys one through- come on Jim give it to me- especially when I’m pitching, we got guys 1 through 9 that can hit the ball out of the park.”
Wainwright may have been laughing when referring to his hitting, but he’s actually hit two home runs and had a career high 14 RBI this season, a feat he credits to his change of approach.
“I had nine extra base hits to lead off the year. It’s one of those crazy weird anomalies that you can’t explain,” Wainwright said. “I spoke with Madison Bumgarner this year and just sort of embracing the fact that we’re pitchers, we might get one or two pitches to hit during the game, we can’t miss those pitches. So we always have to be ready.
“I’m getting up on the plate a little bit more. I’m embracing being a pull hitter, and I’m letting it fly man. I’m not trying to hit singles to right anymore. I’m trying to drive the ball, hit it hard and so when I have that approach where I just want to hit the ball as hard as I can, it makes me kind of dangerous. So those pitchers miss a pitch in the middle of the plate, then there’s a chance I can hit it pretty hard.”
As for if he’s now a better hitter than Bumgarner, Wainwright refused to go there.
“He needs to let me win that Silver Slugger this year,” Wainwright said of the two-time winner, Bumgarner. “I haven’t pitched the best by a long stretch this year, and if we win a World Series and I win a Silver Slugger, all is forgotten.”
As of Wednesday, the Cardinals trail the Chicago Cubs by 15.5 games in the NL Central. Wainwright acknowledged the terrific season their rivals have had.
“Certainly this regular season, the Cubs have looked amazing, man,” Wainwright said. “They’ve done it from top to bottom. You can’t say a single thing they haven’t done well. They’ve played great defense, they hit the ball well, they pitch well, and when you do those three things, you’re going to have a very good chance to win a lot of game and that’s what they’re doing. So you have to tip your hat to the Chicago Cubs. They’re playing very good baseball.”
However, the three-time All-Star wouldn’t correlate the Cubs regular season success into a World Series title just yet.
“The thing we always remember is last year we won 100 games and lost in the first round. You never, never, never know, until you get in the postseason, what’s going to happen. Look, in 2006 we won the World Series when we had 83 wins, we were 83-78 that year. We won the World Series,” Wainwright said. “It just doesn’t matter because the best pitcher can have a bad day or the best pitcher could roll through the playoffs like Madison Bumgarner did a few years ago, like Chris Carpenter’s done in the past, and make it very tough for anybody else to win. But any team can beat any other team on any given day and those short series especially, you just never, never know.”