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First Pitch: Molina and Pujols take to Busch Stadium for final time in regular season

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Pujols hits 700

St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols hits home run number 700 in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 at Dodger Stadium. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

First Pitch is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. at Busch Stadium.

The final regular-season game at Busch Stadium will be one filled with nostalgia and celebration, giving Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Cardinals fans an opportunity to say goodbye. While they will meet again Friday for game one of the NL wild card series, this will be the last regular season game that the pair of Cardinal icons play on their home field. 

They will of course be flanked by veteran starter Adam Wainwright, whose retirement status is not yet known but will be honored as part of a generation of Cardinals stars and a member of the record-setting battery (with a record 328 games after today).

Pujols will hit third and play first base today, and Molina will hit fifth. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said putting Pujols and Molina in those spots "Feels really right", mentioning that he had thought of this moment for a while.

Marmol also mentioned that he hoped Wainwrights start today would be shorter in nature and that he could pull him from the game with positive momentum building forward He did though admit to thinking about what he would do should Wainwright spin some magic tonight.

Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado will take a back seat to the festivities today: Goldschmidt is not in the starting lineup, while Nolan Arenado will serve as the DH and hit fourth for a modified day off. 

Brendan Donovan will lead off and play third base. 

The Cardinals will honor Pujols and Molina pregame, the ceremony will be shown on the Bally Sports Midwest broadcast.

Lineups

CARDINALS (92-66)

1. Brendan Donovan, 3B

2. Alec Burleson, RF

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Nolan Arenado, 3B

5. Yadier Molina, C

6. Corey Dickerson, LF

7. Dylan Carlson, CF

8. Paul DeJong, SS

9. Tommy Edman, 2B

P: Adam Wainwright, RHP

PIRATES (59-99)  

1. Oneil Cruz, SS

2. Bryan Reynolds, CF

3. Miguel Andujar, DH

4. Jack Suwinski, LF

5. Rodolfo Castro, 3B

6. Cal Mitchell, RF

7. Ben Gamel, 1B

8. Tyler Heineman, C

9. Ji Hwan Bae, 2B

P: Roansy Contreras, RHP

Hitting out loud: Cardinals icon Albert Pujols’ incomparable career echoes, endures

Pitching Matchup

RHP Adam Wainwright (11-11, 3.51 ERA): In start 328 with his long-time battery mate, Adam Wainwright is pitching for his postseason life. He told the Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel that he's going out to change people's mind today, and that he wants to prove he is a playoff starter for this team. 

RHP Roansy Contreras (5-5, 3.72 ERA): In his first full season in the majors, Contreras has been inconsistent but yet one of the stabilizers for the Pirates. Starting 18 games for the Pirates, Contreras's 3.72 ERA and 8.4 strikeouts per nine lead the Pirates pitching staff. 

Wild Cards

  • A win today for Adam Wainwright would give him multiple milestones. The win would be his 107th at Busch Stadium, tying him with Jesse Haines for the second most in franchise history, it would also tie him with Wilbur Cooper for 21st in MLB history for wins at one stadium. 
  • Albert Pujols has eclipsed the 700 Home Run mark, but still has history to chase. With four more RBI's, "The Machine" would pass Babe Ruth for second all-time on the RBI list with 2214. 

Injury Report 

  • Tyler O'Neill has begun a running program with the aim to return to baseball activity before the end of the regular season. He will travel to Pittsburgh and hit off live pitching. (Updated Oct. 1)
  • Jordan Hicks has thrown in bullpens as he ramps up from his arm fatigue and neck stiffness, and there is optimism for his return. Marmol has said he does not need to see Hicks pitch in a game before the season ends to put him on the playoff roster. Hicks will travel to Pittsburgh with the Cardinals this week and will pitch against hitters there. (Updated Oct. 1)
  • 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 head to Pittsburgh to close the 2022 season. They will play at Busch Stadium again for the first-round of the playoffs, the wild-card series, though their opponent has not been set.

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 Saturday night, and also in the pages of Sunday's Post-Dispatch. 

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