You know how some players and coaches are grumps with the media and don’t say a whole lot to reporters? A lot of times that’s because they are protecting valuable information. Perhaps the Pittsburgh Pirates should have taken that approach prior to Game 5 of the NLDS.
Prior to the decisive Game 5 that the Pirates lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1, a few Pittsburgh hitters revealed part of their game plan for facing Cards starter Adam Wainwright. They said that they swung at too many of his breaking balls in a Game 1 loss to him, so they were planning to lay off of it this time.
After throwing a complete game for the win Wednesday, Wainwright said in his postgame interview with TBS that he knew how to attack the Pirates hitters because his opponents divulged their game plan.
“They said in the media that they were going to try to not swing at any of my breaking stuff,” Wainwright said with a smile. “I guess I had to go out there and prove I could throw it for strikes.”
Wainwright did just that — he threw 96 pitches, 66 of which were strikes. According to analysis from Joe Lucia of The Outside corner, Wainwright threw 48 curves in Game 5 compared to 33 in Game 1. He got five outs in play on it both games, but knowing that the Pirates would try laying off of it more, he used his curve more in Game 5. Baseball Tonight researcher Justin Havens says the 48 curveballs in Game 5 were the most Wainwright had thrown in a start in his last five years.
So how did he know what the Pirates’ approach would be? Just take a look at these comments from some of Pittsburgh’s hitters made prior to Game 5.