Yadier Molina had six hits in 13 at-bats during the National League wild card series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres. (Gregory Bull)
Yadier Molina played just three postseason games in 2020. And the little playing time he had on October ball was not wasted.
The veteran Puerto Rican wide receiver for the San Luis Cardinals dazzled with several plays in the three-game wild card series won by the San Diego Padres.
San Luis took the first game 7-4, but San Diego rallied to win the second 11-9, and the third and decisive game via shutout 4-0.
Molina, 38, was 13-6 (.500) with two RBIs and two runs scored. Although the wood sounded, its brilliance – as usual – was behind the diamond. In Game 3, he hit a double, his 19th in the postseason, to become the franchise leader in that department.
In the second game, Molina showed that his reflexes remain unchanged by making an incredible catch of a 'foul tip' hit by the youth Fernando Tatis Jr. to eliminate the Dominican in the third inning in a play rarely seen in baseball. The pitch was a fastball from starter Adam Wainwright. Molina's trail position helped capture the ball after hitting Tatis's bat, to the amazement of the East and Major League Baseball fans.
In the third game, the Doradeño completed a double play with the bases loaded in the seventh inning after a grounder hit by Tommy Pham. The ball was caught by second baseman Kolten Wong, who immediately fired at the plate for Molina to get the out. Immediately afterwards, the Puerto Rican noticed the braking that Eric Hosmer gave second and shot him with a shot to the middle.
As if that weren't enough, Molina reached 100 games in the postseason to now rank fifth of all time in the Major Leagues behind Derek Jeter (157), his compatriots Jorge Posada (119) and Bernie Williams ( 118), David Justice (112) and Manny Ramírez (111). With his six hits, he now has 101 in playoff games.
Despite his great performance, Molina on Friday regretted the elimination of the Cardinals in a season in which the ninth was affected by an outbreak of COVID-19 that also infected the Puerto Rican. Before the pause by the disease, San Luis had to complete the rest of the games of the regular season in a hurried manner. They finished 30-28, a fifth seed in the National League.
“We played a lot of consecutive games. Obviously, you are going to get tired and tired and you are going to have days that the bat will weigh. It's human. Being able to get two days off in San Diego helped and we showed that we could score. This season was strong, inside and outside. I don't want to make excuses, but we get tired, ”Molina said in a virtual press conference, not hiding his emotions when he learned of the death of legendary former Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson.
“In this series we show that we have a good offense when we rest. On Friday, you have to give them credit because they pitched very well. It is what it is, ”he added.
Nine Padres pitchers tied up the Cardinals' bats for nine innings in Game 3. Puerto Rican Emilio Pagán pitched the seventh perfectly.
“I don't want to say that we had a good year or a bad year. For everything we went through, it was a very strong season. We had injuries. But we do battle. I am proud of this team. Regardless, they came out ready to play every day. I'm proud. Obviously, we wanted to move forward but it is what it is, ”he declared.
Molina, a two-time World Series winner and a nine-time National League Gold Glove winner, played the final year of his three-year, $ 60 million contract with the Cardinals, where he has played his entire 17-year career. He has expressed on numerous occasions that he would like to play one or two more seasons to finish his illustrious career, either in St. Louis or in another ninth.