#325---September 14th, 2022
When you think of Adam Wainwright the thought of Yadier Molina is synonymous. This one wasn't a pressure-fueled in-game pitch-by-pitch moment. This was a moment that recognized the longevity and greatness of not only Adam Wainwright but Yadier Molina as well. Two franchise icons stayed with the organization collectively throughout the years while others came and went. It became increasingly obvious that there was a connection there between the two that was special, historically special.
It's amazing to think about it in retrospect that in the modern game, two players spent their entire careers beside one another in the same clubhouse for close to two decades. Molina from 2004-2022, and Wainwright from 2005-2023. In this day and age, it's increasingly more common that players will change teams two, three times, and sometimes more. It's also a younger person's sport as well, with more bullpen use being integrated on a game-to-game basis than the conventional workhorse or old-school 20-game winning ace.
Coming into the 2022 season both Yadi and Waino were not even guaranteed this moment either as both were free agents. Wainwright was coming off a stellar '21 campaign in which he went 17-7 with a 3.05 ERA in over 200+ innings, and finished 7th in CY Young voting. He re-signed with St. Louis on a one-year deal for 17.5 Million. Molina, on the other hand, was contemplating retirement and was largely persuaded to come back in an effort to collectively chase the All-Time record for starts as a battery with his friend. He eventually did and announced in spring training that this would be his last season. It made it even sweeter when St. Louis resigned franchise legend Albert Pujols to a one-year deal as well.
The pair started the season 4th all-time in starts together as battery mates at 304, and needing just 20 to tie the all-time record of 324 set all the way back in 1975 by Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (gives you an idea of how improbable this record is to be broken again). Through all the ups and downs that final seasons can bring, such as Molina missing close to two months in the middle of the season, Wainwrights sometimes shaky command, or poor end to the season. The stars were always going to align it felt like (pun intended), and they did, on September 14th, 2022. The iconic duo got their collective moment as they exalted themselves into baseball history against the Brewers. Christian Yelich respectfully took strike one down the middle in front of a sold-out Busch Stadium and with a tip of the cap, camera flashes popping, and generations of Cardinal fans looking on, start 325, and the record was theirs.
The Birds went on to win the game 4-1 and continued to press themselves closer to the post-season, but truly Wainwright and Molina were all the talk of the game. With Molina retiring at the end of 2022 the record now stands at 328 starts together. It was truly a testament to longevity and a commitment to excellence that stands out when one thinks of #325.