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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Cardinals’ Albert Pujols makes first career appearance as pitcher; Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright make history

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Sunday night was a showcase for the elder statesmen for the Cardinals. They won 15-6 and, believe it or not, it wasn’t that close until the very end (we’ll get to that). 

Adam Wainwright started on the mound with Yadier Molina behind the plate for the Cardinals, a combination that is now the most prolific in major-league history, from a certain point of view. That is to say, the duo has now been the Cardinals battery for 203 wins. That’s breaks the previous MLB record, which was held for a long time by Warren Spahn and Del Crandall. They combined for 202 wins for the Braves from 1949-63. 

As for Albert Pujols, this marked the 2,988th career regular-season game for the future Hall of Famer. He’s also played in 86 playoff games. In Sunday’s blowout win by the Cardinals over the Giants, though, we saw Pujols on the mound for the first time. 

Here he is taking the bump. 

It’s pretty fun to listen to the building buzz as the fans still in attendance (it was 15-2 at the time, so the crowd was understandably thin) started to realize what was happening. 

In terms of the results, it was all downhill from there. Pujols did get three outs, eventually. But not before he gave up a three-run homer followed by another home run. Still, he brought things home in a 15-6 win. 

It wasn’t really about how Pujols pitched anyway, it was that he pitched at all. The purpose was for fun, not performance. The game was already over. 

In fact, a significant part of this game ended up being a showcase for the three veteran Cardinals. 

  • Wainwright returned from the injured list and had a no-hitter going for 4 2/3 innings. He got the win to move to 4-3 and it was the 188th of his career. Through seven starts in his 17th season at age 40, he now has a 3.15 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. 
  • Yadier Molina is 39 years old in his 19th year for the Cardinals. He went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI. We’ve already covered the record set by Molina and Wainwright. 
  • Pujols, unlike Molina and Wainwright, took a detour away from St. Louis for a large portion of his career, but he’s back in likely his swan song. He went 2-for-3 with two walks, a double and an RBI. 

It all started Sunday night with Wainwright on the mound, Molina behind the plate and Pujols at DH. It concluded with Pujols on the mound. Fun night. 

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