(Busch Stadium) As members of the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals began to arrive in town yesterday to celebrate the 1oth anniversary of their championship, Tony La Russa texted his closer from that World Series.
“He said, why don’t you ask Mike if you can close tonight–it’s only fitting,” shared Adam Wainwright. “He didn’t know I was starting. So when I saw him for the picture, I said I’ll probably just ask him once the 9th rolls around if I can keep going and he said, ‘Wait, you’re starting today? Well then, let’s go’ I said okay, you got it.”
And as he did to close things out against Detroit ten years earlier, Wainwright again delivered–turning in the 10th shutout of his career in a 5-0 victory over the Miami Marlins. Making the occasion even more special was that as in ’06, Yadier Molina was again behind the plate.
“We borderline did the whole jump up, we were both so excited,” said Wainwright. “That’s pretty neat, me and Yadi have thrown a lot of games together and he’s caught a lot of my games. Every time we share something like that, it just adds to our wall of cool things we’ve done together.”
The Marlins did not get their first hit until the 6th inning but as the 8th came to a close, Wainwright was at 108 pitches–and was due to hit in the bottom part of the frame.
“Basically, I go over to him and just kind of look him in the eye and he looked like I thought he’d look,” shared Mike Matheny of how their conversation went.
“He kind of walked over and I could see he was fixin’ to say like that was a nice job and before he could say anything, I just said give me 10 pitches” furthered Wainwright. “He looked up like I think that’s probably good. I said I can do it in 10 pitches.”
It actually took 12 pitches, but neither Wainwright or Matheny had an issue with the math adding up to 120 pitches.
“You have the ability to do that, you could tell he wasn’t working very hard all night,” said Matheny. “He was really under control. Still had as a good a fastball in the 9th as he had early on when he wanted it but the art of tonight was him taking off a little bit of velocity, putting on movement, and all about location. Didn’t feel like we were pushing him physically but it was something we were hoping would happen and that was a special night.”
Obviously aware of the 2006 festivities, Wainwright gave extra consideration as to how he would prepare for his start when having to warm up in the middle of the pregame ceremony.
“Usually, I’m very locked in and I don’t leave that moment but tonight I felt like it would’ve been sort of disrespectful to not appreciate what we did in 2006 and acknowledge the guys as they rolled by in their cars and sort of live that up a little bit,” he explained. “Every now and then, when you’ve played as long as I have, you have to realize some cool things that have gone on and when they said my name and Yadier’s name, I think we both wanted to acknowledge that ‘Hey, we’re still out here. We’re still doing it.’ but it was cool. I sort of let myself enjoy that more than I would normally on something like that.”
Besides the embrace with Molina and his teammates on the field after the final out, Wainwright also included his 2006 teammates in the moment.
“I tipped my hat when it was done,” he said. “I made sure before the 9th, I had somewhat of a feeling I was going to get the job done, so I looked up to make sure I knew where they were so after the third out I tipped my hat to them too. That was cool for me to do. That’s one of the things that Mike said to me, does this mean what I think it means to you and I said yes, sir. He said all right, go get ’em.”
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI