May 24, 2006: Adam Wainwright homers in his first big-league at-bat

When defending Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter was scratched from his May 24 start against the Giants with inflammation of a bursa sac located between his right shoulder and rib cage, the 2006 Cardinals pitching staff was dealt a blow.

In Carpenter’s place, the St. Louis pitching staff started dealing some blows of its own, including an Adam Wainwright home run on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues.

The day began on a down note after Carpenter reported discomfort in his throwing shoulder. He had experienced the same stiffness during his previous start against the Kansas City Royals, when he allowed six earned runs in six innings.

“We gave it some time and treated it and two days ago it felt perfect,” Carpenter said. “Then I played some catch and re-aggravated it, so we’re going to make sure we give it enough time.”[1]

Cardinals trainer Barry Weinberg said he believed that rest and anti-inflammatory medication would allow Carpenter to avoid an extended absence from the rotation.[2]

With Carpenter unable to make his scheduled start, the Cardinals informed Brad Thompson approximately three hours before game time that he would make his first major-league start.[3]

The Giants didn’t greet him kindly. Randy Winn led off the first with a single to left field and Omar Vizquel followed with a triple down the right field line. A two-out RBI double by Mark Sweeney gave the Giants a 2-0 lead.

The Cardinals got on the scoreboard in the second inning as Giants starter Noah Lowry walked Scott Rolen and Juan Encarnacion to lead off the game. Hector Luna singled to load the bases before Yadier Molina hit into a double play that scored Rolen.

Thompson pitched a scoreless second inning before Jason Marquis entered the game to pinch hit for him. Marquis, who won a Silver Slugger Award in 2005 with a .310 batting average, tripled into the right-field gap. David Eckstein followed with an RBI single to left to score Marquis and tie the game.

In the third, the Cardinals called on Tyler Johnson, who worked around a leadoff single by Vizquel for a scoreless inning of work.

Wainwright entered the game in the fourth. Todd Greene welcomed him to the game with a double and Daniel Ortmeier followed with an RBI single. With two outs, Vizquel tallied his third hit of the game and Steve Finley drove in another run before Vizquel was thrown out at the plate.

With the inning over, Wainwright stepped to the plate in the top of the fifth for his first major-league at-bat. It didn’t last long.

On the first pitch he saw, Wainwright homered over the left-field wall to cut the Giants’ lead to 4-3. With the blast, he became the 22nd player in Major League Baseball history to hit the first pitch he saw for a home run and the third reliever to accomplish the feat, joining Hoyt Wilhelm in 1952 and John Montefusco in 1974.[4]

“I wasn’t thinking anything until I hit third,” he said. “I was wandering around the bases making sure I was going the right way. I hit third and I said, ‘Oh, my goodness. I just hit a home run in my first at-bat.’ It was crazy.”[5]

Wainwright retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth before the Cardinals took the lead in the sixth on an RBI single from Molina and a sacrifice fly by So Taguchi.

St. Louis broke the game open in the seventh. Encarnacion hit an RBI single, Molina walked with the bases loaded, Taguchi drove in a run on an infield single, and Chris Duncan added an RBI groundout to give St. Louis a 9-4 lead.

Taguchi added a solo home run off Brad Hennessey in the ninth to make the final score 10-4.

Wainwright earned the second win of his career with his three-inning performance, and Randy Flores and Braden Looper combined to pitch the final three innings.

Between Wainwright’s homer, Marquis’ triple, and a ninth-inning double by Looper, Cardinal pitchers accounted for three of the team’s four extra-base hits.

“They almost hit for the cycle, the pitchers,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “They surprised everybody.”[6]

“Today may be the only at-bat I get all year because it’s a bullpen day,” said Looper, who actually received one more at-bat that season. “Obviously, it’s fun to get a base hit because how many chances am I going to get to hit in my career?”[7]

The Cardinals finished the day with 15 hits, including two apiece by Scott Spiezio, Albert Pujols, Encarnacion, Luna, and Taguchi. Giants pitchers also passed out seven walks, including three by reliever Scott Munter in just 1/3 of an inning.

“They were going to have their starter. We were going to have guys pitching out of their roles,” Eckstein said. “It doesn’t look good if you’re writing it on paper. It was a real good win. They all count the same, but there are definitely some that are really nice to get and this was really nice to get.”[8]


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[1] Joe Strauss, “Pitching takes a hit …” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[2] Joe Strauss, “Pitching takes a hit …” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[3] Joe Strauss, “… but smacks three,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[4] Derrick Goold, “Hot Corner,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28, 2006.

[5] Joe Strauss, “… but smacks three,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[6] Janie McCauley, “Cards’ pitchers a hit,” San Francisco Examiner, May 25, 2006.

[7] Joe Strauss, “… but smacks three,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

[8] Joe Strauss, “… but smacks three,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2006.

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