(Busch Stadium) The St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals night marked the achievement of several milestones–among them, the 500th career win for Mike Matheny.
“My wife said to me not long ago that they were talking about it,” said Matheny, though he was unaware the number had been reached until approached for an on-field postgame interview.
“I haven’t even thought about–the odds of me being around long enough to win 500 were probably pretty low when we started this gig. Humbled. Grateful and have been blessed with some amazing talent in the clubhouse, both on the field and with the staff and the support. As I think about that a little bit more, it’s impressive to be a part of this organization from this seat for long enough to make that happen.”
In franchise history, only Billy Southworth (766 games) reached the 500-win mark faster than Matheny, who was managing his 890th game for the Cardinals.
When he took over the managerial role before the start of the 2012 season, Matheny didn’t have any ideas or dreams of 500 wins or any other such milestones. That was intentional.
“It just seemed like such an unlikely situation for me to be in in the beginning, I didn’t want to overthink it,” said Matheny. “I made that mistake as a player. I almost spent too many days looking over my shoulder wondering if it was going to end real fast because most people didn’t think I’d be there, that I didn’t get to enjoy it along the way. That’s the advice I give the guys every time they get up here, just play. Play. Play like it is your last one, but plan on just doing what you need to do to stick around as long as you can. I think there’s something to that. Not getting so focused on how long that you don’t get to take advantage of the moment.”
Another milestone was reached as Michael Wacha, who was also celebrating the milestone of his 26th birthday, recorded his 500th career strikeout. At 106 games, he tied Steve Carlton as the 2nd-fastest pitcher to reach the mark.
“Who’s first?,” responded Wacha with a knowing smile. The answer is Lance Lynn, who’s locker is right next to Wacha’s.
Matt Bowman earned his 1st MLB save as he came on with the bases loaded and two outs in the 9th inning to strikeout Adrian Sanchez.
And Alex Mejia recorded three milestones in just two at-bats. He got his first MLB hit and RBI with a 2-out single in the 2nd inning. He then hit his first MLB home run in the 8th.
“They kind of both go hand in hand,” said Mejia of trying to sort which was the bigger moment. “Obviously, the hit. It’s the first hit, you want to get that out of the way and it was nice that it was also a RBI to help the team out. But what a great job by Michael Wacha and the bullpen. They came in and did a tremendous job to keep us in there.”
Following his home run, Mejia also received his first curtain call at Busch Stadium.
“That was pretty cool,” he smiled. “That was a really neat feeling, actually. Having that many fans support you. It was just an awesome feeling.”