ST. LOUIS — There have been 122 MLB seasons since the start of the Modern Era (1900). In that time span, there has not been a more common starting pitcher and catcher duo than the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina.
Their 325 starts (and counting) as a battery have been something to look forward to for the last season or so, and with strike one to the Brewers' Christian Yelich to lead off the game on Wednesday night, they stood alone on the mountaintop.
And it's likely nobody will ever knock them off it.
Wainwright and Molina's battery record is something we won't see again in baseball. It's Cal Ripken's 2,632 consecutive game streak. It's Cy Young's 511 career wins. It's a mark that will be seen as unbreakable. And that's part of the reason it's so special. But not the only one.
Wainwright and Molina's 325 starts together encapsulate nearly two decades of winning baseball in St. Louis. Since Molina's debut in 2004, the Cardinals have only had a losing season once. They've made the playoffs 12 times (soon to be 13) and won two World Series titles.
In the 324 starts featuring a battery of Wainwright and Molina, the team is 212-112. That's exactly 100 games over .500, and the most team wins of any battery in MLB history.
Wainwright and Molina have been synonymous with winning baseball, and I'd bet that's the thing they're most proud of about their partnership.
In today's game, you can't let yourself get too attached to players. They could, and often are, gone before they can establish any kind of attachment to a city. But the loyalty and bond Wainwright and Molina have fostered in St. Louis is the rarest of rare.
The next-closest active battery starts leaders in the majors are Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras with the Chicago Cubs. They have 105 career starts together. Less than a third of Wainwright and Molina.
For the longevity, talent and circumstances to line up for the Cardinals' pair to pull off this feat is nothing short of remarkable. Things like this aren't supposed to be done. Certainly not in 2022. Heck, the guys they passed, Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan with the Tigers, made their last start together in 1975.
Molina has said 2022 will be his final year, and he's not leaving anything in the tank, off to a solid September for the Cardinals.
Wainwright has kept the door open to return in 2023, but if he does he'll need a new catcher to throw to.
Whenever the final out is made in the Cardinals' 2022 season it will close a chapter on one of the most impressive stretches of baseball in the franchise's illustrious history.
And it's a success that wouldn't have been possible without baseball's all-time battery.