Cards claw way back into division race with one swing
By Alaina Getzenberg
ST. LOUIS -- With two outs in the sixth inning and the bases loaded, Yadier Molina walked toward the plate. The Cardinals were down just one run, making this at-bat key whichever way it went. After just one pitch, however, the game halted as Molina pointed with his bat in the direction of left field.
The small stray cat turned into a Rally Cat, however, when Molina immediately followed up the delay by blasting a grand slam to left field on the next pitch to give the Cardinals an 8-5 lead, a lead which would hold up for a victory over the Royals on Wednesday.
"I'm not a cat person, but I sure like that one," manager Mike Matheny said. "I've been told it's already been picked up. Somebody claimed it pretty quick. That was impressive to watch. I don't think people understand the limited success rate guys have had against [Peter Moylan], too. That's a tough assignment. Put [Molina] in a big spot and he comes through."
Did the delay bother Moylan?
"I can't remember if I was set yet. But I heard the crowd erupt and I thought it was the scoreboard or something. I turned around and it was a kitten. That's a first for me," Moylan said.
Molina's 387-foot homer was the fifth grand slam of his career. He's tied with Tim McCarver for second all-time among Cardinals catchers for grand slams and needs two more to tie Ted Simmons.
This particular grand slam will be one to remember.
Not only did it come right after the Royals made the decision to intentionally walk Dexter Fowler with two outs in the inning, bringing Molina to the plate, but his at-bat was cut off midway through by the cat making its way across Busch Stadium's field.
"You know when you see some animal coming through a field, you expect people to jump on the field, but you never expect animals," Molina said. "It was fun."
The cat caught the attention of everyone in the stadium as it made its way all the way across the field, past center fielder Lorenzo Cain toward the wall before a grounds crew member managed to pick it up. As he ran, the big-eared cat appeared to scratch at him and attempted to claw its way back on to the ground.
The moment brought back memories of the 2011 NLDS when an infamous "Rally Squirrel" ran across home plate just as a pitch was being delivered while Molina was catching. The squirrel seemed to follow the Cardinals as they went on to win that series over the Phillies on their way to winning the World Series.
"It was the [Royals] catcher [Cam Gallagher] that told me like, 'you haven't seen something like that before,'" Molina said. "I said not with a cat, but a squirrel, yes."
Molina was celebrated with extensive cheers from the St. Louis crowd and the team that were both awakened by the presence of the cat and the grand slam that followed.
"It was awesome. I knew, before the cat ran on the field, just seeing Yadi walk to the plate, I felt good about our chances," Matt Carpenter said. "And then I saw the cat and I knew something special was about to happen. It was pretty cool."
Alaina Getzenberg 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.