ST. LOUIS — Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol has a revealing move when he’s headed to the mound to replace veteran Adam Wainwright. He makes a signal to the bullpen right as he hops out of the dugout so that it’s clear he’s not going to the mound for a debate.
At least once, Wainwright has turned his back to the manager until Marmol arrives on the slope of the mound, at which time the veteran will turn and ask if he signaled already.
When Marmol came to the mound Monday in the seventh, he made no signal.
This was Wainwright’s game to own.
This was Wainwright’s moment to claim.
This was his 200th to win.
One of the Cardinals’ all-time great starting pitchers finished that inning and pitched seven scoreless in a dynamic, determined show of willpower to start a 1-0 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. When Marmol left the mound, Wainwright retired the next two batters he faced to carry a one-run game through the seventh inning. Relievers John King and Ryan Helsley collected the final six outs to assure their sage and star teammate would become the third Cardinals starter in history to win 200 games for the club.
The only run of the game came on catcher Willson Contreras’ solo homer. Tommy Edman caught the final out in shallow right field as Helsley collected his 12th save by getting the final four outs — an assignment the Cardinals prepped him for because of the importance to the team and clubhouse of Wainwright’s milestone.
Wainwright, at 42, joins Bob Gibson and Jesse Haines, and only Gibson and Wainwright spent their entire big-league careers with the Cardinals.
It took Wainwright 11 starts and nearly three months to go from his 198th career win to his 199th. As if channeling the championship closer he was as a rookie for the Cardinals, Wainwright secured his 200th win on his first try.
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