How did Yadi catch that? 'He is a wizard'

October 2nd, 2020

The smirk on ’s face said it all.

The veteran Cardinals pitcher returned to the rubber after striking out on a foul tip in the third inning with a grin and a slight shake of the head.

Wainwright was likely thinking what everyone watching Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series against the Padres was thinking: How in the world did hold on to that foul tip?

On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Wainwright and Molina got crossed up, with Molina thinking Wainwright was going to throw a curveball and Wainwright gearing up to throw a two-seam fastball high and tight. Molina set up for the curve, and Wainwright executed the fastball, which came in at 89.3 mph instead of the 75-mph curve Molina was expecting.

Molina raised his glove in time to catch the ball, which nicked Tatis’ bat. Molina’s mitt stayed right there, and the veteran catcher made sure to hold on to the ball in the top of the glove. He jumped up to show home-plate umpire Cory Blaser he still had it, and Tatis was sent back to the dugout.

That’s not an easy play to make, and Wainwright knew it. He also knows that his longtime catcher would be the one to make it.

“Nobody else catches that ball,” Wainwright said. “That’s the plain and simple, long and short of it. He is a wizard.”

It’s just another way that Molina left his fingerprints on his 100th career postseason game. The 38-year-old drove in the Cardinals’ first run of the game with an RBI single in the first inning and gave them a spark with a single in the ninth -- to reach 100 postseason hits.

“For him to catch that ball, it was truly amazing,” Wainwright said. “It really was. There’s no other way to put it, it was amazing. He doesn’t even know how he caught it. I asked him as we were walking off the field. I said, 'How did you catch that?' He said, 'I have no idea.'”

The Cardinals’ defense was on display in the 11-9 loss, and it helped keep the Padres at bay until walks and home runs gave San Diego the win.

made a stop behind first base on Trent Grisham’s grounder in the first, and and combined for a slick double play to end the inning.

Then there was Wong’s glove flip to Goldschmidt on Wil Myers’ grounder in the second to strand a runner and end the inning.

Molina’s catch was added to the list in the third inning.

“Yadi made an unbelievable play,” manager Mike Shildt said. “Somehow they got mixed up, and not only did he catch it, but he caught a foul tip. Pretty amazing play, really.”