ST. LOUIS -- After letting 354 days and 373 plate appearances pass since his last home run, catcher Yadier Molina stung an 0-1 curveball from Twins starter Trevor May in the fourth inning of Monday's 3-2 win to wipe away the drought.
The blast, which gave the Cardinals a three-run lead at the time, was the difference in the club's series-opening victory. It also followed Mark Reynolds' fifth homer of the season, giving the Cardinals their first back-to-back blasts of the year.
"I know that it's been an issue with everybody else more so than in our clubhouse," manager Mike Matheny said of Molina's surprising power absence. "But sooner or later, that wears on you, especially a guy who has been able to hit 20 before. Everybody wants to talk about everything on the outside that might be influencing -- whether it's his diet or his exercise program or whatever it is that's not giving him his power. He's been hitting balls hard. He hit four balls on the button today and just finally got one that carried a little better for him."
Molina set a career high with 22 homers in 2012. He connected for 12 a season later and hit his seventh in 2014 off Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu on June 27, 2014. Molina sustained a thumb injury two weeks later and did not go deep again upon returning to the field in late August.
Two years after tallying 56 extra-base hits in 541 plate appearances, Molina entered Monday with just 10 (all doubles) this season in 223 plate appearances.
"We're not concerned about him," Matheny said. "I know the rest of the watching world is, but he just was able to maybe take that off his back and not think about it so much and keep doing what he's been doing."
Molina had an exuberant reaction after hitting the homer and returning to the dugout but seemed less impressed by his long ball than everyone else when asked about it postgame.
"It feels good," Molina said. "Am I a home run hitter? No. So I'm not worried about home runs."
But could hitting one help relieve some pressure or allow him to relax at the plate?
"I'm not relaxed," he responded. "I'm relaxed now after the game. I just try to stay focused."
Molina added two singles to his night to finish with his third three-hit game of the season. He has three multihit performances in his last four games and 19 this season, the most among National League catchers.