What an emotional weekend for the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans as they bid farewell to Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals took two of three games from the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend. After Sunday’s game, the two teams traveled to Pittsburgh to close the regular season.
The Cardinals won a nail-biter Friday 2-1. The Cardinals showed out on Saturday, winning 13-3. The Cardinals had a bit of an anti-climatic loss Sunday, 7-5.
On Friday, Pujols launched his 22nd home run of the season and 701st of his career. The blast came in the fourth inning off former Cardinal Johan Oviedo.
Nolan Arenado knocked in the winning run in the fifth inning, hitting a single to the right field and allowing Brendan Donovan to score.
Jack Flaherty earned his second win of the season Friday after a six-inning outing in which he gave up four hits, two walks, and an earned run. He did strike out six batters. Andre Pallante and Giovanny Gallegos had scoreless relief appearances. Ryan Helsley earned his 19th save, walking one and striking out one in the ninth.
On Saturday, Jordan Montgomery had a redemptive outing for the Cardinals. He pitched six innings, giving up four hits, one walk, and two earned runs. He did strike out five batters. Steven Matz had 1.1 innings of relief, giving up a hit and a run while striking out one. Jake Woodford gave up two hits in his 1.2 innings of relief.
Most importantly, though, the Cardinals bats came alive Saturday.
Pujols singled to left field in the first inning, allowing Lars Nootbaar and Paul Goldschmidt to score. With the bases loaded, Corey Dickerson hit a grand slam home run to right center field, allowing Arenado, Pujols, and Alec Burleson to score.
Arenado doubled on a fly to the right field in the second inning, allowing Donovan to score. Burleson singled to center field, allowing Goldschmidt and Arenado to score. Molina then grounded into a double play, allowing Pujols to score.
Dylan Carlson singled to left field in the eighth inning, allowing Donovan and Nootbaar to score. Burleson reached base on an error, allowing Carlson to score the 13th run for the Cardinals Saturday.
Cardinals have emotional send-off for Molina and Pujols Sunday
It was a disappointing outing for Adam Wainwright, who wanted to have his final home start with Yadier Molina be unforgettable. While Wainwright had his amazing moments on the mound Sunday, it was apparent he was still battling lingering issues with his arm.
Wainwright pitched 4.2 innings, giving up six hits, two walks, and six earned runs, including a home run to Ben Gamel. Wainwright did strike out four batters.
Wainwright’s emotions were riding high after a pre-game ceremony in which he spoke to honor his long-time teammates Molina and Pujols. Wainwright and Molina’s final home start as a battery was their record-setting 328th start as a battery. It’s safe to say there was no dry eye in the house.
Pujols had a fantastic afternoon. Pujols knocked a ground-rule double to left field in the first inning, scoring Brendan Donovan and Alec Burleson. Molina was then out on a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Pujols to score.
Albert Pujols hit his 23rd home run of the season and the jaw-dropping 702nd of his legendary career. It was a beautiful shot to center field in Freese’s Landing. It is interesting to note that his first hit at home for the Cardinals in 2001 was a home run and his final at-bat at home in 2022 was a home run.
That’s just amazing.
In a touching moment, Manager Oli Marmol went to the mound to remove Wainwright from the game for reliever Zack Thompson. In a moment that surprised many, Marmol also removed Molina and Pujols from the game allowing the trio to walk off the field together for the last time in a regular season home game.
It was a moment where you needed to grab the tissues.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals weren’t able to get a victory. While they will be in Pittsburgh for the final regular season road games, the Cardinals will be back in St. Louis on Friday.
Their playoff run begins Friday in their NL Wild Card series at Busch Stadium.