Cards catcher has 3B changed to 2B by replay, but fittingly caps season as piston
By Nick Krueger
ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina had a triple before it was overturned and called a ground-rule double following a Pirates challenge in the seventh inning Sunday. Though he returned to second base, he had sparked the decisive six-run inning in the Cardinals' 10-4 victory over the Pirates.
It wasn't enough to move them into a tie with the Giants for a Game 163 on Monday, but Molina made sure the Cardinals didn't end the season on a down note.
Molina hit a ball that landed fair down the left-field line, then bounced off the wall in foul territory as he rounded second base and back into fair territory, where it was touched by the ballboy. After what appeared to be interference, the umpires placed Molina at third, but the replay showed the ball hit off a railing above the stands, making it a ground-rule double before the ball was touched.
"I saw the ball, and I saw the umpire gave the sign that [the ball was fair], and I just kept going," said Molina, who had actually made it all the way home.
After Molina's double, the next five batters reached base, and all five scored.
"Yadi is special," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think he continues to figure out ways to get the job done. The team takes on the personality of some of its leaders, and I would say what you've seen from Yadi is very directly related to what you see in the rest of our club."
The veteran catcher went 3-for-5 with an RBI single, ending his season with a hit in 17 of his final 18 games and a career-high 164 hits -- leading the team with 13 games of at least three hits.
His longevity aided the Cardinals tremendously in the second half without much depth behind him due to injuries. He played a career-high 147 games and has now caught 1,000 innings nine times in his career. He continued to improve as the season wore on, improving his first-half average (.259) to .360 in the second half of the season.
"That kind of leadership by example is rare to find anywhere," Matheny said. "But I think he did a terrific job of figuring out how to get better. He just keeps doing that. He set the tone for us."
Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.