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First Pitch: Cardinals celebrate, honor Roberto Clemente Day in opener vs. Reds

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In today’s 10 a.m. video, columnist Ben Hochman discusses the Cardinals’ legendary duo of Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright on the day of their record-breaking 325th start together. And, as always, Hochman picks a random St. Louis Cards card from the hat. Ten Hochman is presented by Window Nation!

First Pitch is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. at Busch Stadium.

Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Paul Goldschmidt and Adam Wainwright will each wear the number 21 tonight in honor of Roberto Clemente tonight as part of a leaguewide celebration of the Puerto Rican star. The three are all past winners of the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes players who exemplify sportsmanship and community service.

Paul Goldschmidt has been nominated as the Cardinals' candidate this season thanks to his charitable work off the field. This season is his seventh nomination. Historically only Puerto Rican players and past winners were allowed to wear the number, but now current nominees are also allowed to wear it during the game, too.

Pujols will bat fifth and DH for the Cardinals tonight. Yadier Molina does not usually catch tonight's starting pitcher, Miles Mikolas, but he insisted to play today to honor Clemente, a hero of his. 

As part of Molina's tribute to Clemente, he will be wearing special catchers equipment and cleats to mark the occasion, donning an all yellow kit behind the plate and yellow shoes. 

Yadier Molina's Roberto Clemente Day Catchers Equipment

Yadier Molina's gear for Roberto Clemente Day on Thursday.

Lars Nootbaar will play right field and hit ninth. He will also wear No. 21, but that's because it's his usual number. 

Alec Burleson will play left field and hit seventh. He had a base hit in last night's game while also not striking out. He has yet to be punched out in his first four games as a major leaguer, the first Cardinal to do so since 2017.

The Cardinals open today's game just five games back of the New York Mets for the second seed in the National League, a seeding that would earn them a bye in the opening round of the playoffs. With the struggling Cincinnati Reds in town for a five-game series, the Cardinals will need to capitalize on a weak opponent to gain ground in that race.

Lineups

CARDINALS (84-59) 

1. Brendan Donovan, 2B

2. Tommy Edman, SS

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Albert Pujols, DH

6. Tyler O'Neill, CF

7. Alec Burleson, LF

8. Yadier Molina, C

9. Lars Nootbaar, RF

P: Miles Mikolas, RHP

Reds (56-86)

1. TJ Friedl, LF

2. Jonathan India, 2B

3. Kyle Farmer, SS

4. Jake Fraley, DH

5. Donovan Solano, 1B

6. Aristides Aquino, RF

7. Nick Senzel, 3B

8. Spencer Steer, 3B

9. Austin Romine, C

P: Chase Anderson, RHP

Pitching Matchup

RHP Miles Mikolas (11-11, 3.42 ERA): Mikolas is on pace to clear most of his career highs this season, including needing just 19 more innings pitched to surpass 200. The Reds, though, have challenged Mikolas, as he's gone deeper than five innings just once and, and allowed 11 earned runs over 16⅓ innings. 

RHP Chase Anderson (0-3, 9.00 ERA): The journeyman has struggled in the majors this season. In three starts this year he has failed to pitch past the fourth inning and has averaged just seven outs a start and three walks a game. 

Wild Cards

  • Since the All-Star break, the Cardinals have hit the most home runs in baseball with 82, and allowed the fewest with 39.
  • With two bases tonight, Yadier Molina would pass Lance Parrish (3,119) for ninth all-time among primary catchers. With one RBI he would pass Brian McCann (1018) for 12th all-time by a primary catcher.

Injury Report 

  • Dylan Carlson (thumb) has begun baseball activities with throws Monday and swings on Tuesday. The Cardinals hope to send him on a rehab assignment starting Friday. (Updated Sept. 14)
  • Left-hander Steven Matz (torn MCL) threw one inning in relief, sitting down all three hitters he faced on 13 pitches. He will pitch again Thursday and then return to St. Louis to be reevaluated by the coaching staff. (Updated Sept. 14)
  • RHP Drew VerHagen (hip) and RHP Alex Reyes (shoulder) underwent season-ending surgeries. Both right-handed pitchers are expected to be ready for spring training after a winter of recovery. (Updated Aug. 20)

Up Next

The Cardinals host the Reds for five games, including a doubleheader on Saturday, before jetting west for road trip to Los Angeles and San Diego.  

Check back here throughout the afternoon and evening for immediate coverage of the game and any news that surfaces from the Cardinals' pre-game activities. We will publish expanded game coverage online Thursday night, and also in the pages of Friday's Post-Dispatch.

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