Wainwright's curve nearly unhittable

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
1:13
PM ET

AP PhotoAdam Wainwright (left) had a nearly unhittable curveball in Game 1, striking out 9 of 11 batters on that pitch that ended the at-bat. Gio Gonzalez (right) walked a season-high 7 Cardinals batters.
The St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals play Game 5 of their NLDS Friday (8:37 p.m. ET on ESPN Radio).

The Cardinals have won five straight winner-take-all postseason games, with their last loss coming against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2001 NLDS.

The Nationals are 1-1 in winner-take-all games, but both of those were played in 1981, when the franchise was in Montreal.

St. Louis and Washington will run Adam Wainwright and Gio Gonzalez out to the mound for tonight’s clincher. Let’s take a look at this matchup.

Wainwright’s key: Curveball
Wainwright’s curveball was nearly unhittable in Game 1 against the Nationals as they went 1-for-11 with nine strikeouts. In three starts against the Nationals this season, Wainwright has struck out 14 hitters in 22 at-bats with the curveball.

Gonzalez’s key: Throwing strikes
Gonzalez had one of his wilder starts of the season in Game 1, walking a season-high seven Cardinals while also throwing his second-lowest percentage of strikes.

For Gonzalez to be successful, he’ll need to throw strikes, specifically on the first pitch, as well as avoid the base on balls.

Did you know?
Gonzalez set a postseason franchise-record with seven walks in Game 1, which also tied for the second-most all-time in a Division Series game.

He’s the sixth pitcher in baseball history to walk seven batters in five or fewer innings in a postseason game. The other five are Ryan Dempster (2008), Paul Abbott (2001), Mike Hampton (1997), Mike Cuellar (1974) and Rex Barney (1947). Of these five, only Hampton and Barney had subsequent postseason starts, but not in the same postseason.

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