JUPITER, Fla. • Veteran righthander Adam Wainwright allowed five runners in two innings in his first start of the spring Thursday. But the good news was that none of them scored in the Cardinals’ 3-3 tie with Minnesota.
Wainwright walked three and permitted two hits, including a game-opening double. But there were also three strikeouts by Twins hitters and a double-play ball thrown by Wainwright.
The total pitches for two frames was 47, of which 26 were strikes, and that is not Wainwright-like. But Wainwright had much better stuff than he had at the end of last season when his fastball barely got into the 80s. Wainwright, who had minor off-season elbow surgery, threw a half dozen pitches at 90 mph or above, all of them in the first inning.
“It was a good first step,” Wainwright said. “I’ve got some things to work on but, all in all, the ball was coming out fine. I’ve got to work on some timing and I’ll be fine.
“That’s what we’re here for — to get those all kinks ironed out. But we’re on the right track.”
Wainwright, 36, was most pleased with his ability to make pitches with men on base. “I made pitches when I had to,” he said. “I was behind in the count quite a few times. I hit location about half the time, which is not nearly good enough.”
Wainwright said he was working on a few “wrinkles,” as he called them. He declined to be specific so as not to offer a “scouting report,” but pitching coach Mike Maddux offered that Wainwright was dropping down from his normal arm slot and also trying to elevate his pitches more.
“I liked what I saw,” Maddux said. “He acted like the traffic cop today. He had guys around the bases but he never gave in. He blended trying a couple new things but when push came to shove, he was back to the old tool box and pulled out some trustworthy weapons.”
• BOX SCORE: Cardinals 3, Twins 3 (9 innings)
Just after Wainwright finished his stint, Marcell Ozuna put the Cardinals ahead with his first homer of the spring, a long drive to left.
Young outfielder Oscar Mercado singled twice, drove in a run, stole his third base of the spring and also drew a walk. Jose Martinez doubled in the final run in the eighth, an inning when the Cardinals lost two runners, including Martinez, at the plate.
Lefthander Tyler Lyons made his spring debut and allowed a two-run homer in the fifth. Righthander Josh Lucas, an outside shot to be in the Cardinals’ bullpen, worked two scoreless innings.
WAINWRIGHT ESCAPES JAMS
Veteran righthander Adam Wainwright, in a sense singing for his supper this spring, worked two scoreless innings in his 2018 debut on Thursday.
Of note was that Wainwright walked two hitters in the first inning, a rarity for him, and threw a high number of 24 pitches. He also walked one in the second but he struck out three for the day and also induced a double play. He stranded four runners, allowing two hits in addition to his walks.
The total number of pitches for two frames was 47, of which 26 of them strikes, suggesting the word “laborious” could be attached. But Wainwright had much better stuff than he had at the end of last season when his fastball barely got into the 80s.
Wainwritght, who had minor offseason elbow surgery, threw a half dozen pitches at 90 miles per hour or above, all of them in the first inning.
Before the game, manager Mike Matheny, asked what he expected to see, offered, “You always look at comparing him with him, knowing what it usually looks like at this time of year and hoping that’s what we’re seeing.”
Some of it probably was.
Just after Wainwright finished his stint, Marcell Ozuna put the Cardinals ahead 1-0 in the home second with a first homer of the spring, a long drive to left. Oscar Mercado's two-out, run-scoring single in the second made it 2-0.
GYORKO, LYONS TO MAKE DEBUTS
Besides the spring debuts of righthander Adam Wainwright and lefthander Tyler Lyons for the Cardinals on Thursday, third baseman Jedd Gyorko will make his first start in the club's seventh game.
Dexter Fowler, Yadier Molina and Marcell Ozuna are other Cardinals regulars in the lineup for the game against Minnesota, with Ozuna serving as the designated hitter.
Following Wainwright will be righthanded rookie Ryan Helsley, Lyons, Josh Lucas, Ryan Sherriff and Conner Greene.
The Cardinals are 3-3 in their first six games.
1. Dexter Fowler rf
2. Jedd Gyorko 3b
3. Yadier Molina c
4. Marcell Ozuna dh
5. Luke Voit 1b
6. Randy Arozarena lf
7. Breyvic Valera 2b
8. Oscar Mercado cf
9. Alex Mejia ss
RH Adam Wainwright p
1. Zack Granite cf
2. Erick Aybar 2b
3. Robbie Grossman dh
4. Eduardo Escobar ss
5. Kennys Vargas 1b
6. Ehire Adrianza 3b
7. Nick Buss lf
8. Lamonte Wade rf
9. Bobby Wilson c
LH Adalberto Mejia p