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The St. Louis Cardinals began their 2022 regular season on Thursday afternoon, hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates. Opening Day is always special, but this one has a chance to create memories that endure for Cardinals fans of a certain age. That's because this the first step in the expected last seasons for right-hander Adam Wainwright, catcher Yadier Molina, and designated hitter Albert Pujols, who returned to St. Louis this offseason after a decade spent playing on the west coast.

The Cardinals had previously named Wainwright as their Opening Day starter, and there was no question that Molina would be the one doing the catching. Pujols' presence seemed less certain. The Pirates are starting a right-handed pitcher, in J.T. Brubaker, and it was conceivable that rookie manager Oliver Marmol would play the percentages and start left-handed-swinging Corey Dickerson at DH instead.

Marmol opted to honor the moment, however, by slotting Pujols in as DH and the Cardinals' fifth hitter. Here's their lineup in whole:

Predictably, the Busch Stadium crowd greeted Pujols with a standing ovation as he was introduced in St. Louis:

For those wondering, this will mark the first time the Cardinals have Wainwright, Molina, and Pujols in the same starting lineup since Sept. 9, 2010. Although Pujols remained in town through the 2011 season, Wainwright missed that entire campaign because of injury. Molina also was absent for a stretch late in 2010, meaning the Cardinals were largely relying upon Matt Pagnozzi to start behind the plate.

The Cardinals won that contest by an 11-4 final against the Atlanta Braves, by the way. Wainwright threw eight innings and held the Braves to three runs on seven hits; Molina notched a hit; and Pujols drove in a run on two hits and drew a base on balls. The Cardinals lineup also included a mainstay in Matt Holiday, as well as some individuals whose time in St. Louis has long been forgotten, like Pedro Feliz and Randy Winn.