Molina hot at the plate -- and behind it, too

Molina hot at the plate -- and behind it, too

Molina hot at the plate -- and behind it, too
ST. PETERSBURG -- A .360 batting average, a .448 on-base percentage, a homer, six RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.

It might be hard to believe, but that was the stat line for catcher Jose Molina in the seven games he played during the club's 10-game road trip. The team went 8-2 overall in that stretch, and 6-1 with Molina behind the plate.

In the final game away from home, he went 1-for-2 with a run and a stolen base, but it was the pair of walks he drew that impressed manager Joe Maddon the most.

"You can talk about hits all you want, and I always say if you're walking, you're hitting. The guys who really accept their walks organize their strike zone and have a lot better chance," Maddon said. "J-Mo has a tendency to maybe open it up a little bit, but when he doesn't ... When he uses that whole field, he gets kinda tough."

Maddon added that he believes Molina, who has a nine-game hitting streak, is playing as well behind the plate as he has all year. Tampa Bay pitchers allowed just 18 runs in the seven games Molina caught. Molina said that catching a good game is more important than hitting one.

"I'm not looking at that, I don't care about that," Molina said about his recent offensive production. "I look at the pitching staff. They're doing great, and they're doing amazing this last trip, and we're going to continue to do that. ... What I concentrate on the most is my catching behind the plate."

With his two stolen bases on the trip, Molina has three on the season and is one short of his career high, which he reached in 2004 while with the Angels.

When the Rays were in Anaheim this past weekend, Molina was honored with the 2002 Angels team that won the World Series, and he was inducted to the team's Hall of Fame.

He thinks the current Tampa Bay group is like that championship team.

"There's a lot of similarities," he said. "No one gives us a chance, and when no one gives us a chance, we put a little bit extra out there."