The Cardinals will go into Boston’s Fenway Park as a first-place team for the first time since the 2013 World Series when they start a series with the Red Sox Friday night. Oliver Marmol’s team took over first place in the National League Central Division on the just-completed 5-2 homestand as Milwaukee faltered.
On Friday night, Adam Wainwright, who suffered two losses in that World Series, the only one in which he has started a game and a Series he laments, will match up against longtime teammate Michael Wacha. The Cardinals are the only team Wacha (4-1) hasn’t faced.
Wacha, as a rookie, was the hero of that 2013 postseason run, winning four postseason games, with one of those a Game 2 win in the Series at Boston before he lost Game 6 there. Wainwright was the loser in Game 5 in St. Louis, as well as Game 1 in Boston.
This will be the 34th major-league stadium, including Monterrey, Mexico, in which Wainwright will have pitched a major league regular-season game although he did beat the Red Sox at Busch Stadium in 2014.
People are also reading…
“That’s pretty neat,” said Wainwright, about officially adding Fenway to the list. “I’m excited to go there although I’ve been there. I’m excited to pitch against a great team in a really cool venue but … I’ve seen it, so it’s not going to be totally different.”
More exciting, he said, will be the “Old Man Walk,” he takes in a city/stadium the day after he pitches. “That’s going to be worth its weight in gold for me,” Wainwright said. “(Fenway) is a park I have not ventured through yet.”
The Cardinals lost both regular-season games at Fenway in 2017 but Wainwright was injured and didn’t travel. Boston also won both games in St. Louis that year.
Wainwright is the last Cardinals pitcher to beat the Red Sox. That came eight years ago when he won 5-2 at Busch on Aug. 7, 2014, holding the Red Sox to seven hits and two runs in seven innings.
Kolten Wong had three hits, including a home run, and Jhonny Peralta drove in two runs.
But the World Series games are the ones Wainwright might remember most.
“I think about Game 1 and 5 a lot, actually,” he said.
In Game 1, an 8-1 Boston victory, Wainwright gave up five runs in the first two innings. Mike Napoli drove in two runs with a double in the first.
“But the pitch before (to David Ortiz) was a double play,” said Wainwright. “We didn’t get an out. ‘Big Papi’ hits a ball right to our second baseman, Carp (Matt Carpenter), who throws it to Pete Kozma, our sure-handed shortstop. But he botches it. And, instead of a zero up there, I’ve got 2-0 against me.
“Then, the next inning, there’s a popup between me and Yadi (catcher Yadier Molina). I called it early and then I saw him coming and I kind of backed off and it dropped right between us.”
The Red Sox scored three runs in that inning after that misplay. “That was a disaster,” Wainwright said. “I wish I could go back and play the first two innings again.
“But,” he said, “In Game 5, I made the most regrettable pitch of my career.”
That pitch was made to David Ross, then Jon Lester’s catcher but now manager of the Chicago Cubs.
“One to one, seventh inning, one out,” said Wainwright. “Ross comes up, hits a bloop down the left-field line. It hits the line, runs scores, we lose the game. The pitch was down and it was in … but it was not exactly where I wanted it,” Wainwright said.
“Thought good. Result bad.”
The Red Sox scored two runs in that inning and went on to a 3-1 win that gave them the Series lead at three games to two. Wacha suffered the 6-1 loss in Game 6.
“I was so ticked about Game 5 that I whupped them the next year,” Wainwright said.
That was a small measure of revenge.
Whether Wainwright and Molina can break a tie for second place in games started as a battery is open to some question. Molina has been treated for a sore right knee and may even have to go on the injured list. The Cardinals are pondering bringing up young catcher Ivan Herrera from Memphis.
So far, Wainwright and Molina have 316 pitcher-catcher starts together, tied with Warren Spahn and Del Crandall, who started their careers with the Boston Braves before the franchise moved to Milwaukee. Detroit’s Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan are first at 324.