ST. LOUIS – Fifteen years in the making, the St. Louis Cardinals’ legendary tandem of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina matched a remarkable feat in baseball history.
Wainwright and Molina took the field Thursday for their 324th career start together. The dynamic duo is now only one start away from sole possession of the record for most starts as a battery.
For more than half of a century, the record has been held by Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan of the Detroit Tigers, who played together 12 years in the 1960s and ’70s. While Wainwright and Molina have been teammates at the MLB level since 2005, their current run at the record began when Wainwright became a full-time starter in April 2007.
Molina marked the occasion with a big afternoon at the plate, blasting his first two home runs since returning from injury in his first pair of at-bats.
“Primetime players show up in primetime games,” said Wainwright on Molina’s performance. “He likes winning, he likes playing on winning teams and he ikes winning World Series. I think he feels that right now, and you can smell that.”
Wainwright tossed five innings, but allowed four runs and ended up with a no-decision. The Washington Nationals spoiled the historic day with an 11-6 road defeat to split a four-game series. Despite the setback, the Cardinals have enjoyed a 31-13 record since All-Star break and have dropped only one series since the turn to August.
“We know we are in a good position right now,” said Molina. “We still have a lot of baseball coming.”
If the rotation sticks as planned, Wainwright and Molina could officially set the record in the next home series, either Sept. 13 or 14, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Wainwright and Molina entered the 2022 season with a combined 305 starts, which was then fourth-most in MLB history. This season alone, the pair has already passed Red Faber and Ray Schalk of the Chicago White Sox (306) and Warren Spahn and Del Crandall of the formerly-known Boston/Milwaukee Braves (316).
An obstacle to the record emerged midseason when Molina landed on the injured list with persistent knee soreness. The 19-year backstop missed nearly a month and a half of action, putting the record chase on hold at 316 starts from June 11 to Aug. 2.
Molina has acknowledged several times that the 2022 season will be his final as a catcher with the St. Louis Cardinals and at the MLB level. Wainwright has not yet announced his future plans beyond this year but has found top form deeper into his career and earned several one-year contracts over the last few seasons.
Molina leads all Cardinals catchers with 2,211 games played, 2,162 hits, 174 home runs, 1,017 RBIs, and 18,188 innings caught. Wainwright entered the historic start third in wins (194), fourth in games started (384), and second in strikeouts (2,138) in Cardinals history.