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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Molina was everywhere Friday night

Yadier Molina found himself in the middle of most of the pivotal plays in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 4-3 series-opening win in Pittsburgh on Friday night.

Yadier Molina (AP/Gene J. Puscar)The catcher’s two-run, two out single in the first inning got the Cardinals started right, giving them a lead they would hold until the bottom of the eighth.

Leading off the sixth, Molina reached via a throwing error and eventually came around to score his team’s third run on a Skip Schumaker single.

In the bottom of the eighth, Molina was involved in two big plays. In the first, Andy LaRoche was caught in a rundown between third and home. Molina ran him back to the bag, where the trailing runner, Andrew McCutchen, had also taken up residence. When the out call was made on McCutchen, LaRoche must have thought he was being called out and stepped off the bag. Molina alertly tagged him for the second out as McCutchen, still on the bag, tried in vain to pull LaRoche back.

After Trever Miller hit the next two batters to reload the bases, closer Ryan Franklin’s offering scooted between Molina’s legs. Though it was scored a wild pitch since it was in the dirt, it allowed Pittsburgh to tie the game at three and cost Chris Carpenter a much-deserved win. Carpenter had gone seven innings, allowing two runs.

Molina then drove in the winning run in the top of the ninth with another two-out hit, a double struck into the right-center gap. Joe Mather, pinch-running for Matt Holliday, scored. Though he was not driven home, Molina even added a stolen base as he swiped third.

Molina went 4-for-5 on the evening with three RBI. With four stolen bases on the season, he is tied with Colby Rasmus for the team lead. Molina’s 19 RBI ties him with David Freese for second-most on the Cardinals behind Albert Pujols. The 19 RBI also leads all Major League Baseball catchers.

From a historical perspective, it was Molina’s sixth four-hit game in his five full and two partial seasons as a major leaguer. Since 1952, he ranks third in four-hit games by a Cardinals catcher.

Four-hit games, Cardinals catcher, 1953-current

Catcher 4-hit games
Ted Simmons 19
Tim McCarver 8
Yadier Molina 6

In the almost-30 years since Ted Simmons left after the 1980 season, there have been a dozen four-hit games by Cardinals catchers. Molina has half of them and half of those have been against Pittsburgh.

Four-hit games, Cardinals catcher, 1981-current

Player Date Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO SB CS
Yadier Molina 5/7/2010 PIT W 4-3 5 5 1 4 1 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 0
Yadier Molina 7/17/2009 ARI W 6-1 4 4 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 8/22/2008 ATL W 18-3 6 5 2 4 0 0 0 4 1 1 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 7/12/2008 PIT L 11-12 6 6 1 4 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 6/2/2006 CHC L 4-5 7 7 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 5/25/2005 PIT W 11-5 4 4 2 4 2 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0
Cody McKay 5/29/2004 HOU W 10-3 5 5 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Matheny 6/16/2003 MIL L 4-9 4 4 1 4 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Difelice 5/24/1997 SFG W 9-3 5 5 0 4 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Tom Pagnozzi 4/27/1995 PHI L 2-6 4 4 1 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tom Pagnozzi 5/26/1991 NYM W 14-4 6 6 0 4 1 1 0 6 0 0 0 0 0
Tony Pena 5/4/1989 LAD W 12-0 6 6 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0

In one final tidbit, researcher Tom Orf also notes that the last Cardinals catcher to collect four hits and steal a base in the same game was Tim McCarver on June 10, 1966. McCarver had two RBI in that game, trumped by Molina’s three on Friday night.

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