In a feel-bad season for the Cardinals and their fans, Adam Wainwright gave the team and the town an unconditional, emotionally powerful, feel-good celebration. It was timely, meaningful and presented with love.

Career victory No. 200 was perfect.

Sep 18, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright (50) hugs his son Caleb as he talks with the media after winning his 200th career game in a 1-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

This milestone achievement was 18 big-league seasons in the making. Including the postseason, the 200th career prize was earned over 2,788 innings, 507 games, 427 starts, and countless hours of video study. He poured everything into it including the sweat of indefatigable training. The journey to 200 required the character needed to overcome severe injuries and advanced age for a pitcher. These 200 twinkling moments were formed by the happy times, and the heartache, and his insatiable desire to be great.

This human tower of power may have swayed a few times through the years, but he always stayed strong in adverse conditions. This tower of power had some cracks, absorbing punishing blows during his farewell 2023 season. But it never fell. He never fell. And on the night Wainwright locked in No. 200, he was absolutely ageless.

Wainwright was at best on Monday night, summoning a peak form that presumably was lost. But he found it. And after being struck on 198 wins for two-plus months, he shut down the Orioles and Brewers — two postseason-bound teams — in consecutive starts in which he allowed two runs in 12 innings. At the beginning of his career Wainwright was a closer. Near the end of his career he was a closer again. He would not be denied as he closed in on 200.

As we learned again, never underestimate this man – not even at age 42 and in the final days of a season filled with failure and frustration. The hardship could not break him.

Along with his faithful companion Uncle Charlie, Wainwright took 33,176 fans on a gripping, suspenseful ride that instantly qualified for entry into the “Best of Waino” collection. He shut out the first-place Brewers for seven sublime innings that highlighted everything that made him special in a distinguished career that made him the second-best starting pitcher in Cardinals franchise history.

The rivals from Wisconsin added to the tension by threatening Wainwright in several instances. But Waino dug in even harder – drawing on the experience of his warrior mentality – to subdue the Crew. Milwaukee went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. He set them up for two double-play grounders.

Wainwright’s fastest pitch of the evening traveled only 87.6 mph, but he kept them off balance. The Brewers had seven innings of at-bats against Wainwright and did not barrel a single pitch.

Waino got 23 called strikes. His distribution was symmetrical: seven called strikes with the curve, seven with the cutter and seven with the sinker. he had the Brewers guessing, second guessing and triple guessing. All of that spinning left them dizzy. Waino’s percentage of called strikes + swings and misses (30%) in this win was his second-highest in 21 starts this season.

Wainwright iced the Brewers and led the Cardinals to a 1-0 victory. He was fantastic. He didn’t need much run support … one was fine. That he could win a 1-0 game after getting knocked around in so many sad starts in 2023 — and that he could notch No. 200 in such a way … well, that’s a helluva way to get it done.

Let’s step back in time. Wainwright was 25 years old when he pitched seven shutout innings for the first time in his career as a starter. That gem came at Philadelphia on July 15, 2007. Now here we were – 16 years, two months and four days later – and Wainwright did it again, seven shutout innings, perhaps for the last time. But this time, his 42-year-old self allowed fewer hits (4) than he did on that long-ago summer night in Philadelphia (6.) The span of his career simply boggles the mind.

Wainwright conquered the Brewers with an ideal combination: the advanced wisdom that comes with age, and the youthfulness that’s always flowed from his heart. And this time Wainwright received cooperation from his right arm and shoulder and all of the achy, working parts. Not that it was easy. Wainwright just made it look that way. He made it look like age 25.

Given all that’s gone wrong in 2023 – the intensity of his struggles, the massive inflation of his earned-run average – how do you top what we witnessed Monday? You can’t. Not realistically. As he moved in on No. 200, Wainwright put together his best Game Score (70) in a start this season. He deserved this night of triumph.

And my gosh, did he have fun.

He deserved that, too.

“For at least a night, I was a real pitcher out there,” Waino told the media after the game. “The guy I want to be. Seven innings, shutout, a couple of hits. Got through a couple of tough at-bats out there and made adjustments, worked in and out, up and down. For tonight, I was me.”

Wainwright got some help from his pals. Catcher Willson Contreras called a great game – working in perfect rhythm with Wainwright – and sent a home-run missile down the line in left for the game’s only run. Relievers John King and Ryan Helsley get the Brewers off the board for the final two innings. And Wainwright was inspired by the fans and the passion they sent his way through loud, boisterous voices. A total team victory for his 200th victory.

On Monday night, no one was focusing on the Cardinals’ ugly record in 2023 or their likely last-place finish. No one was looking ahead to the offseason and the potential roster changes. No one was mad at the front office or the manager or ownership. After a grim season of beatdowns – on the scoreboard, and with our collective morale – all eyes were fixed on one man. The tall man. He was all that mattered. And Wainwright came through with a virtuoso performance that wiped away all of the angst, and anger. He made us smile, and forget about our worries. This was more than a parting gift from the pitcher who loves his team, his fans, and his home.

This treasure of a man put joy into a lost season. It was just what his people needed. If the epic Carlos Beltran strikeout to clinch the 2006 NLCS was the most beautiful moment for the young Wainwright, his against-the-odds mastery of the Brewers was the most precious moment in his au revoir days as a Cardinal. It’s almost impossible to thank him for the memories, but the fans will get it done on the final weekend of the season. But we’re not ready to say goodbye. We’ll never say goodbye to Adam Wainwright.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. You can stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

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For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible, Brooks Baseball and Baseball Prospectus unless otherwise noted.


Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.