Waino celebrates GA return with 11 K's in G1

Righty leads troop of veterans past Braves

June 20th, 2021

, who turns 40 in August, said recently that he especially enjoys pitching on holidays -- the bigger stage, in other words -- and was back in his home state with family in the stands, starting for potentially the final time against the team that drafted him.

So, of course, Wainwright threw his second complete game of the season -- albeit a seven-inning effort -- during Sunday’s 9-1 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Braves at Truist Park.

Wainwright was one shy of tying a career-high 12 strikeouts.

Happy Father’s Day to the father of five.

“I pitched a pretty good game on Mother's Day, right?” Wainwright said. “I can't leave the dads hanging.”

Buoyed by a trio of his fellow elder statesmen -- homer- and RBI-happy days from and and a milestone day for -- Wainwright pitched the Cardinals to a much-needed win after the “huge” and unexpected rainout Saturday forced Sunday’s twin bill.

Among the accomplishments for Wainwright:

• Tallied his 12th career double-digit strikeout game (and first of the season)
• Improved to 8-0 in eight career doubleheader starts
• Pitched his 26th complete game, tying the Astros' Justin Verlander for most among active players

“He’s bouncing around here like he's 20 years old,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who managed Wainwright with Atlanta's Double-A affiliate in 2003. “He's done a great job of keeping himself together through a lot of adversity. I told him about five or six years ago, I hate when it pitches against us, but it’s a lot of fun because he can pitch.”

Important from Wainwright’s day was its timing, setting up the Cards for a series split in the nightcap after they dropped the first two games of this series in Atlanta in frustrating fashion.

Sunday's was a performance now expected by Wainwright, with each of his four main pitches notching at least one strikeout, though it was not expected to happen at the time it did.

“A day like that, an off-day where, like you said, [is] unexpected,” Wainwright said. “That can really flip a script.”

And it was no surprise who joined Wainwright in the commanding win: Arenado broke an 0-for-20 skid with a homer and double, Goldschmidt continued to refind his power strike with four RBIs that broke the game open, and Molina tied Johnny Bench for eighth-most career hits among AL or NL catchers.

Molina also nabbed a would-be basestealer from his knees, Molina's throw harder than Wainwright’s pitch to him.

“He's like the eighth wonder of the world,” Wainwright said.

But could this have been the final showing back near home for Wainwright, re-signed to a one-year deal and leaving his future plans open?

“I don't know, you never know,” he said. “I'm acting like it is, just in case it is, so I don't miss anything.”