Waino, O’Neill lift Cards over Pirates in Pujols’ return

Apr 7, 2022, 4:47 AM | Updated: 6:03 pm
St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols tips his cap as he steps up to bat during the f...

St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols tips his cap as he steps up to bat during the first inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday, April 7, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Albert Pujols held back tears during a lengthy standing ovation. The Cardinals designated hitter put on a big smile instead.

Plenty of reason for those on this opening day in St. Louis.

Adam Wainwright pitched six scoreless innings, Tyler O’Neill hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-high five, and the Cardinals celebrated Pujols’ return with a 9-0 season-opening win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

“I was trying to hold it in a little bit,” Pujols said. “These fans really appreciate what I’ve done for this organization and hopefully I can continue to do that and finish strong.”

Yadier Molina threw out a runner trying to steal second in the first game of his final big league season, and Nolan Arenado and Tommy Edman also homered for the Cardinals, who won the managerial debut of 35-year-old Oliver Marmol. Paul Goldschmidt drew four straight walks, the first player to do that on opening day since Manny Ramírez in 2002.

The Pirates had just six hits and lost budding star Ke’Bryan Hayes to left forearm spasms in the first inning — just hours after news began to spread that Hayes had agreed to a $70 million, eight-year deal. Hayes said the issue was minor and not related to a wrist injury that spoiled his 2021 season.

“It was just a cramp,” he said.

Fans stood and cheered Pujols for nearly a full minute prior to his first at-bat, a flyout to left in the first inning. The 42-year-old played 11 seasons in St. Louis (2001-2011) and helped the Cardinals to a pair of World Series championships before leaving to join the Los Angeles Angels.

Pujols, who signed a one-year deal with St. Louis last month, was 0 for 5.

“He looked good, at least as far as his timing,” Marmol said.

Added Wainwright: “The time that he was here (before), he was a franchise player. A guy who changed the game and was the face of baseball in St. Louis. To see him come back, to be a part of this clubhouse again, is really, really cool.”

Wainwright (1-0) allowed five hits in his sixth opening day start and first since 2016. The 40-year-old struck out six and did not walk a batter. He and the 39-year-old Molina made their 305th start as a battery, fourth most in major league history. Molina made his franchise-record 18th successive opening day start.

O’Neill had an RBI single in the first, then broke the game open with a line-drive homer to left in the second inning against starter JT Brubaker (0-1) for a 4-0 lead.

“We’re an offensive force,” O’Neill said. “We have a lot of depth, one through nine. Everybody’s dangerous. The DH helps a lot as well. We’re always confident in ourselves.”

Wainwright wriggled out of his only jam in the fourth by getting Kevin Newman to ground into an inning-ending double play with two runners on base. Wainwright has not allowed a run against Pittsburgh in his last 32 innings.

“I’m not trying to take away how amazing today was,” Wainwright said. “But we still plan on getting that last out of the entire season.”

The Cardinals recorded their largest opening day margin of victory since beating Houston 14-3 in 1982.

Yoshi Tsutsugo had two hits for Pittsburgh, which opened the season on the road for sixth successive season.

Relievers Nick Wittgren, Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley combined on the six-hit shutout.

Brubaker, who was the Pirates seventh opening day starter in as many years, allowed four runs over three innings. He struck out two and walked three.

HORSING AROUND

Pregame ceremonies featured the traditional parade of Clydesdale horses circling the field in addition to the introduction of 16 members of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame. Ozzie Smith threw out the first pitch to Willie McGee.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: RHP Duane Underwood Jr. left the game in the sixth with right hamstring tightness. … OF Greg Allen was placed on the 60-day injury list with a left hamstring issue.

Cardinals: Opening the season without RHP Jack Flaherty, who is sidelined with shoulder stiffness.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh RHP Mitch Keller (5-11, 6.17 last season) will face RHP Miles Mikolas (2-3, 4.23) in the second game of a four-game series Saturday.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The tarp covers the infield as rain falls before a scheduled baseball game between the New Y...
Associated Press

Rainy season: Guardians postpone celebration due to forecast

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Guardians might as well keep umbrellas in their bat rack. Cleveland was forced to postpone a celebration and flag-raising ceremony Tuesday to honor its AL Central title before the opener of a three-game series against Tampa Bay due to a rainy weather forecast. The pregame pageantry has been pushed back until […]
15 hours ago
United States' Weston McKennie controls the ball during the international friendly soccer match bet...
Associated Press

US World Cup worries grow, 0-0 draw vs Saudis in last tuneup

The United States will limp into the World Cup, and not just because of all the Americans’ injuries. The U.S. played a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night at Murcia, Spain, that was somewhere between unimpressive and alarming. After managing no shots on goal in Friday’s 2-0 loss to No. 24 Japan, the […]
15 hours ago
Attorney Alexandra Benevento, center, speaks with reporters during a news conference announcing a c...
Associated Press

Sex abuse allegations spread against cheerleading industry

Sprawling allegations of abuse against cheerleaders reached Tennessee on Monday in a case that escalates the accusations facing some of the sport’s top institutions. An adult coach sexually assaulted teenage boys at Premier Athletics, according to allegations in a federal lawsuit filed in Memphis that is similar to a previous complaint against Rockstar Cheer in […]
2 days ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge looks out before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Sunday, S...
Associated Press

MLB playoff primer: Things to know as postseason nears

Major League Baseball’s postseason has a little more heft this season. The playoffs are rapidly approaching, with the final regular season games set for Oct. 5. The postseason begins two days later with a field of 12 teams — up from last year’s 10 — and includes a best-of-three format for the opening wild-card round. […]
2 days ago
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) strips the ball from New York Giants wide receiver Ster...
Associated Press

Veteran Giants receiver Sterling Shepard has torn ACL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the New York Giants’ final offensive play in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys, coach Brian Daboll said Tuesday. Daboll had indicated after Monday night’s game that the injury to New York’s leading receiver was […]
2 days ago
Stephen F. Austin safety JaTerious Evans brings down the Warner quarterback for a sack during an NC...
Associated Press

‘Whoa, 98-0’: Coach of team on end of huge loss OK with it

Two days after his Warner University football team lost 98-0 to Stephen F. Austin in one of the most lopsided games of all time, Dialleo Burks channeled his inner P.T. Barnum. Like the 19th-century circus impresario once said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It was in that vein that Burks recalled a conversation […]
2 days ago
Waino, O’Neill lift Cards over Pirates in Pujols’ return