Later tonight, as he has done four previous times in his career, Adam Wainwright will take the ball to open the season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The right-hander takes tremendous pride in being the first starter for his team, but when asked to name his favorite Opening Day moment, he quickly went back to his rookie season.
“Just knowing that I made the big league squad, going up north,” said Wainwright of the news back in 2006. “Tony telling me that you made the team, you’re going up north with us–that was just like such an honor. Something you just never forget.”
Wainwright pitched one inning of relief in the opener, yielding a hit and striking out one on April 3rd at Philadelphia as the Cardinals beat the Phillies 13-5. But Wainwright continued his Opening Day memory with a game he didn’t even play in–vividly recalling the reception of his first home opener, which came a week later at Busch Stadium.
“Lining up on that line after the Clydesdales came through, the fans are rocking. You hear your name announced, first Opening Day–definitely my top moment.”
Wainwright is 11-7 in his career against Chicago, 8-1 at Wrigley Field.
Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeney has been particularly troublesome for Wainwright, batting .385 (5-13, 3 doubles, HR, 4 RBIs). Anthony Rizzo (.333, 9-27) and Wellington Castillo (.350, 7-20) have also faired well.
For the Cardinals, Jason Heyward has made the most of his limited opportunities (.444, 4-9, HR, RBI) against Cubs starter Jon Lester. Jhonny Peralta (.333, 11-33, 2 HR, 6 RBIs) and Mark Reynolds (.286, 8-28, HR, 4 RBIs) have also done well against the lefty.