Wainwright, Molina make history, then lead Cardinals over Brewers

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ST. LOUIS — Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina made history with the first pitch of the game, then the record-setting battery helped the St. Louis Cardinals extend their NL Central lead by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 Wednesday night.

Wainwright and Molina started together for the 325th time, the most ever by a pitcher-catcher duo in the majors. The duo eclipsed the regular-season mark of 324 held by the Detroit Tigers pair of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan from 1963-1975.

Wainwright and Molina received a standing ovation from the crowd at Busch Stadium as they walked from the bullpen to the dugout prior to the game.

Towels with the No. 325 were given out to fans as they entered the ballpark.

Wainwright opened the game with a first-pitch strike to Christian Yelich, who out of respect for the moment, made no attempt to swing at the offering.

Wainwright and Molina made their first start together on April 6, 2007, in Houston. Wainwright recorded a 4-2 win in that game — the first of his 213 victories with Molina behind the plate.

The 40-year-old Molina, a perennial Glove Glover, has indicated he will retire at the end of this season. The 41-year-old Wainwright has yet to make a decision on his future.

Wainwright (11-9) gave up just one run in five innings despite allowed eight hits and walked two. He struck out three and walked two in a 98-pitch stint.

Molina gave him a boost, throwing out Kolten Wong attempting to steal on the back end of a strikeout to end the third. Wainwright fanned Andrew McCutchen with a 74 mph curve and Molina still got Wong by plenty.

Molina put the Cardinals ahead for good with a tiebreaking single in the second.

Nolan Arenado and Lars Nootbaar both homered for the Cardinals, who have won three of four. They stretched their division lead to eight games over the second-place Brewers.

Milwaukee had a three-game winning streak snapped and remains two games behind San Diego in the race for the final wild-card spot in the NL.

Wainwright has thrown 2,141 of his 2,553 innings to Molina. He and Molina have teamed up to record 1,815 strikeouts.

Molina snapped a 1-all tie with an RBI single in the second.

Arenado hit his 29th homer in the second off Corbin Burnes (10-7).

Burnes gave up three runs on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked one.

Nootbaar pushed the lead to 3-1 with his 12th homer in the fifth.

Albert Pujols hit an RBI double in the eighth. He remains at 697 career home runs, fourth on the all-time list behind Barry Bonds (755), Hank Aaron (714) and Babe Ruth (715).

Pujols was hit on the right shoulder by a Burnes pitch in the sixth, but remained in the contest.

Ryan Helsley picked up his 17th save in 21 opportunities.

Yelich had two hits for the Brewers, who spent 92 days in first place in the NL Central earlier in this season.

ANOTHER GREAT ONE

NHL hockey great Wayne Gretzky was seated in the front row at the game. Gretzky played 18 games for the St. Louis Blues in 1995-96 and maintains a home in the area.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: RHP Matt Bush is listed as day-to-day after being removed in the first inning of Tuesday’s game with right groin discomfort. He threw only 15 pitches. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell indicated that Bush will not be going on the injured list.

UP NEXT

Brewers: RHP Adrian Houser (6-9, 4.61) will face New York Yankees RHP Frankie Montas (5-12, 3.89) in the first of a three-game series on Friday in Milwaukee. Houser has just six quality starts in 18 starts this season. The Brewers are 7-11 in games his has started.

Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (11-11, 3.42) takes on Cincinnati RHP Chase Anderson (0-3, 9.00) in the first of a five-game set on Thursday in St. Louis. Mikolas is 3-4 with a 5.55 ERA in 15 appearances against the Reds.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.