History for Waino and Yadi: Cardinals beat Brewers as dynamic duo starts 325th game together, most by a battery in MLB history

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina, left, and Adam Wainwright walk in from the bullpen after...
St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina, left, and Adam Wainwright walk in from the bullpen after warming up for the team's baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday Sept. 14, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Joe Puetz)(Joe Puetz | AP)
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 9:06 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Lolich and Freehan are officially in the rearview mirror for Waino and Yadi.

After eyeing the record for the past couple of seasons, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina finally pulled it down on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium. Facing the Milwaukee Brewers, the dynamic duo that has been a St. Louis fixture since the beginning of the 2007 season started its 325th game together as the starting battery, breaking the long-standing record of 324 starts by Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan.

As Wainwright strode to the interview room post-game, it was clear he had been through the wringer in the clubhouse celebration: He and Yadi had just received the laundry cart treatment following the Cardinals’ 4-1 win over the Brewers.

“Our team just embraced us, everybody giving hugs,” Wainwright said. “Then they put us in the basket, took us to the shower and covered us in cherry coke and apple juice and all kinds of nasty stuff that you don’t want on top of your head. But it’s a pretty sweet taste.”

What’s impossible to ignore about the nature of this celebration is that it doesn’t happen quite the same way without the Cardinals handling their business against Corbin Burnes.

“There were a lot of different things that could have happened,” Wainwright acknowledged. “But I think we were supposed to win that game today.”

On the mound, things didn’t get off to the strongest start for Wainwright, who danced around traffic on the bases in the early innings. But from the first pitch of the game, you could tell it was a unique night at Busch.

“One moment that was really special was when (Christian) Yelich took the first pitch,” Wainwright said. The Milwaukee lead-off batter had no intention of scuffing up the history-making baseball that Wainwright delivered to open the game, setting his bat on his shoulders and letting it go by for a strike so that it could be thrown out of play. “I thought that was a really classy move. You could tell he was kind of going to give that to us.”

From there, the Brewers meant business. After stranding the bases loaded in the first, Wainwright coughed up his first run on three hits in the second inning. But Wainwright settled in and kept the Brewers off the board for the remainder of his five-inning outing despite an unusually elevated pitch count. The 41-year-old right-hander left the game after 98 pitches with a 3-1 lead earned, in part, by the contributions of his long-time battery mate.

As he often does, Molina rose to the occasion on a notable night at the ballpark and rifled an RBI base hit to left as part of the Cardinals’ two-run second. The other run in that frame came courtesy of Nolan Arenado’s 29th home run of the season and sent a packed Busch Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

Lars Nootbaar ground the pepper on Burnes with a home run in the fifth inning that extended the St. Louis lead. It was an important moment for the nine-hole hitter who has seen his productivity at the plate drop in recent weeks.

Beyond the long ball getting the crowd going at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals showed out with their defense—naturally, it was the legendary catcher getting in on the action.

With former Cardinal Kolten Wong looking to gain an edge for his team, Yadier Molina caught him stealing as part of a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out to end the third inning. After all the years he spent with Yadi, it’s possible Wong should have known better.

With Albert Pujols sitting on 697 career homers, the crowd was getting antsy to witness more history in the eighth inning after Tyler O’Neill used his wheels to beat out a routine grounder and bring No. 5 to the plate. Pujols lofted a ball to left-center field that didn’t find its way over the fence—but it did find the gap.

The double scored O’Neill from first base to make it 4-1 Cardinals, which held up as the final score thanks to four scoreless innings from the St. Louis bullpen. The RBI was No. 2,200 for Pujols in his career, making him the third player in MLB history to reach that lofty total, joining Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.

“He’s been in that club,” said Wainwright, who has grown accustomed to seeing his teammate etch his name into record books. “Seems like every day, he passes them or comes up next to them or ties one of those legendary hitters that just seems like they’re not even real they’re so iconic. And he’s in that class.”

Wednesday, Pujols was gracious enough not to take up too much of the spotlight, logging just the one historic swing on the night—so as to keep the bulk of the day’s attention on the starting battery, of course. But it’s the numerous contributions from throughout this roster that Molina believes makes this particular Cardinals team so dangerous.

“We’ve got a bunch of young guys—and we’ve got, obviously, three old guys,” Molina said with a grin. “A really good bullpen, really good starters. We can beat you in different ways and that’s what we’re doing this season.”

For as much fun as Wednesday was at the ballpark—and one look at Wainwright’s sticky, drenched hoodie told the tale of the joy that resided in that clubhouse moments before—the sentiment of these three career twilights converging this summer in St. Louis only carries the weight that it does because of the way these veterans are meaningfully working toward the greater goals of the team.

“I think you look at the season, all three of us have contributed to the wins,” Wainwright said. “We don’t want to be just mascots. We want to be out there contributing, helping us win games.

“Each time we have a moment to celebrate like that, we always bring it back at the end: This is a stepping stone. This is great, thanks for celebrating, but we have a greater mission in mind.”