September 23, 2021: Adam Wainwright throws his 2,000th strikeout

It was fitting that Adam Wainwright’s 200th career strikeout came on a 3-and-2 curveball.

On September 23, 2021, Wainwright joined the 2,000-strikeout club, whiffing Brewers infielder Luis Urias to reach the milestone in his 16th major league season. Paul Goldschmidt homered twice and the Cardinals won their 12th consecutive game in a streak that would reach an incredible 17 games.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Matt Carpenter said of Wainwright’s 2,000th strikeout. “It’s the kind of guy he is. His work ethic, his character, and most importantly, his competitiveness. He takes the ball every day with the expectation to not just win, but to go out and dominate.”[1]

Wainwright originally was a first-round draft pick by the Braves before he was traded to St. Louis in the 2003 trade that sent J.D. Drew to Atlanta. The three-time all-star had finished among the top three in the National League Cy Young Award balloting four times in his career and twice reached the 20-win plateau.

Along the way, Wainwright collected three seasons with more than 200 strikeouts, including a career-high 219 in 2013. At age 40, Wainwright remained capable of missing bats, as the strikeout of Urias marked his 170th of the season. He joined Bob Gibson as the only pitchers to collect all 2,000 strikeouts with St. Louis and became the 85th pitcher in big-league history to join the 2,000-strikeout club.

Though Wainwright entered the game one strikeout shy of 2,000, it wasn’t clear early in the game that he would last long enough to get it. Former Cardinal Kolten Wong led off the bottom of the first with a single, and with two outs, Wainwright walked Eduardo Escobar and Urias. With the bases loaded, Tyrone Taylor hit a grand slam to left field to give the Brewers an early 4-0 lead.

Wainwright retired the side in order in both the second and third innings. Then he led off the fourth inning by making history. On a 3-and-2 pitch, Wainwright’s longtime partner, catcher Yadier Molina, called for “Uncle Charlie.” Urias swung over the curveball and Wainwright had the 2,000th strikeout of his career.

“That’s a lot of punchouts,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “It’s an impressive number. It speaks to a lot of things. Obviously, duration. You’ve got to have a strikeout pitch, or pitches. He’s got the signature curveball, but he’s got other weapons as well.”[2]

Taylor followed Wainwright’s big moment with his second home run of the game. In the fifth, Dylan Carlson tripled down the right-field line and Molina drove him home with a single to right. Later in the inning, Carpenter pinch-hit for Wainwright, ending the veteran’s historic day.

Though he only pitched four innings, allowing five runs on four hits and two walks, the day’s work gave Wainwright 200 1/3 innings for the season. It marked the first time he had surpassed 200 innings since 2014.

“It is a cool number,” Wainwright said. “It means you carried your team into the game a lot of times. That’s really what starting pitching is all about. It’s not the end-all, be-all by any stretch, but it is a cool number.”[3]

The Cardinals came back to tie the score in the top of the seventh. Edmundo Sosa started the rally with a one-out single before Harrison Bader and pinch-hitter Lars Nootbar each walked. Brewers manager Craig Counsell called upon reliever Brad Boxberger, who got Tommy Edman to ground into a force out that scored Sosa.

With Paul Goldschmidt at the plate, Edman was picked off but advanced to second on a throwing error that also allowed Bader to score. Goldschmidt then homered to left field, tying the game 5-5.

One inning later, the Cardinals claimed their first lead of the game. Nolan Arenado walked and scored on a passed ball, and Molina hit a sacrifice fly that gave St. Louis a 7-5 lead. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Goldschmidt hit his second home run of the game. Giovanny Gallegos retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his 12th save of the season.

“They picked me up big time today,” Wainwright said. “Goldie hit some really good swings. I gave him a big old smooch on the top of his head and I don’t care who knows it.”[4]

Goldschmidt and Carlson each finished the game with three hits, and T.J. McFarland earned the win after throwing a scoreless seventh inning. The Cardinals’ 12 consecutive wins was their longest win streak since 1982 and just two shy of the franchise record of 14 set in 1935.

“It was a great team win,” Wainwright said. “I put us in a hole and they came back and won that game.”[5]


Enjoy this post? Take a look back at Adam Wainwright‘s home run in his first major league at-bat.


[1] Ryan Herrera, “Waino pads standout resume with 2,000th K,” MLB.com, https://www.mlb.com/news/adam-wainwright-2-000th-career-strikeout.

[2] Derrick Goold, “Wainwright joins Cards’ 2K club,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 24, 2021.

[3] Derrick Goold, “Wainwright joins Cards’ 2K club,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 24, 2021.

[4] Joe Totoraitis (Associated Press), “Goldschmidt homers twice as Cards extend win streak to 12,” Belleville News-Democrat, September 25, 2021.

[5] Joe Totoraitis (Associated Press), “Goldschmidt homers twice as Cards extend win streak to 12,” Belleville News-Democrat, September 25, 2021.

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