The venerable St. Louis Cardinals battery of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina will reunite Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs.
Molina has been sidelined since June 15 with a knee soreness. He will return from a brief rehabilitation assignment to Triple-A Memphis to catch Wainwright (7-8, 3.28 ERA) in the opener of the Cardinals’ three-game series against the Cubs at Busch Stadium.
“It’s a big deal,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “Looking forward to it.”
Molina appeared in just two games during his rehab stint, going 1-for-5 with a walk and a stolen base. He missed one game after getting hit in the hand by a pitch and his didn’t play Sunday due to a rainout.
“He feels good,” Marmol said. “He feels like he’s in a real good spot. That’s why I’m not concerned (about Sunday’s rainout). Getting at-bats was important.”
Molina and Wainwright are scheduled to make their 317th start together, which will push them past Warren Spahn and Del Crandall for second place on the all-time list. Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan hold the record with 324 starts together.
Wainwright earned a 6-1 victory at Toronto in his last start Wednesday. He allowed the lone run on five hits while striking out eight Blue Jays and walking nobody in seven innings.
“I went into it looking at it as a great opportunity to prove that I still had what it takes to be a great pitcher in this game,” Wainwright said. “Great pitcher. Great team over there. Great offense. There was a lot of stuff I went into with today for motivation. This was awesome. This is what I want as a competitor.”
In his only previous start against the Cubs this season, Wainwright allowed two runs on nine hits and two walks in seven innings on June 5. The Cardinals eventually won that game 5-3 in 11 innings.
While the Cardinals will welcome Molina back, the Cubs will likely bid farewell to catcher Willson Contreras — who topped the list of players the team was shopping about the majors ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline.
“I just want this to be over,” Contreras said. “If they want to trade me, they want to trade me. If they don’t want to trade me, then don’t. But I just want this day to pass and keep focused on playing baseball.”
The Cubs made one trade on Monday, sending right-handed relief pitcher Scott Effross to the New York Yankees in exchange for minor league right-hander Hayden Wesneski.
Chicago will counter Wainwright with Keegan Thompson (8-4, 3.16 ERA), who earned a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last start July 26.
Thompson allowed two unearned runs in a career-high seven innings. He struck out seven batters, walked nobody and allowed just four hits.
“That was as good as we’ve seen Keegan,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “He continues to build.”
Thompson earned a victory over the Cardinals on June 2. He allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings as the Cubs prevailed 7-5.
He is 1-0 with a 4.20 ERA in seven career outings against the Cardinals, including two starts.
The Cardinals could get outfielder Tyler O’Neill back in the lineup Tuesday. He left Saturday’s game in Washington due to leg soreness and sat out Sunday, but his injury was believed to be minor.
–Field Level Media