Molina joins rare company with 1,000th RBI

May 8th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- On an afternoon when fans at Oracle Park celebrated Buster Posey Day,  made sure he was invited to the catcher party. Early in a 13-7 loss to the Giants, the Cardinals vet singled home his 1,000th RBI, another milestone in a legendary career as he became just the seventh Cardinal in history to reach that mark. 

RBI No. 1,000 came in the second inning, when Molina hit a line drive to right field to plate Juan Yepez from third. It made Molina just the eighth catcher with 2,000 hits and 1,000 RBIs and placed him just one hit behind Mike Piazza for sixth all-time among primary catchers.

“That’s a big milestone. Congrats to him,” said Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol after the loss. “He’d much rather have a team win than hit that milestone, but he’s in a good place right now.”

Serendipitously, Molina had family in attendance for the moment. Prior to the game, a series of Giants greats took the microphone to commemorate Posey, including older brother Bengie Molina, who caught for the Giants until being traded to the Rangers in 2010 after Posey took his spot on the roster.

Bengie, a former member of the Cardinals’ coaching staff and a current member of the Spanish-language radio broadcast team for St. Louis, made it clear there were no hard feelings, playfully thanking Posey for his World Series ring.

“Buster -- what else can we say about him?” Bengie said. “He got me a ring!”

Yadier watched from the dugout, raising his arm and then pounding his chest in appreciation of the 2012 NL MVP. After the ceremony, Posey reflected on the still ongoing career of another great behind the plate.

“I did see [Yadier]. I waved back at him. I still marvel at how many games the guy can go out and catch,” he said. “He started six years before I started, and he’s still doing it. I don’t think we’re going to see another catcher be able to do that, what he’s done, with the longevity. Never say never, but it’s going to be tough.”

Yadier’s batting in his 19th season continues to trend upward, with an eight-game hitting streak where he’s swinging .313 (10-for-32) and consecutive games batting in runs. During that span, he has raised his season batting average 92 points (.138 to .230).

“It’s about seeing more pitches,” he said earlier this week. “Early on, I was swinging at every pitch, and now I’m seeing the ball much better.”

Starting with Molina’s historic RBI, the Cardinals had their most runs in a loss since August of last year, including a three-run homer from Dylan Carlson in the seventh -- his first of the year after driving in the game-winning run on Friday -- that initially kept the game in reach at 9-7.

“I’ve been wanting to see him catch a barrel like that pull side and he did a nice job there,” said Marmol. “Hopefully that’s a confidence builder for him.”

However, although they outhit the Giants 14-9, it was a rough day all around on defense for St. Louis, with three fielding errors, eight walks issued and a difficult start from Steven Matz, as the lefty was rocked for eight runs off three homers and was pulled after two innings, reminiscent of his Cardinals debut in April where he allowed seven runs in three innings.

Matz’s struggles with control were evident early, as he walked two of the first three batters before giving up a grand slam to former Mets teammate Wilmer Flores on a sinker that sat high in the zone and was crushed out to left field.

“Three walks, two in the first inning. It just wasn’t getting any better,” said Matz. “I was just fighting myself out there today with command of my sinker.”

Matz gave up two more dingers in the second, both two-run shots, to Mauricio Dubón and Darin Ruf. After allowing just five runs over his previous three starts, Matz's eight runs on Saturday matched a career high. The offseason acquisition continues to be inconsistent after pitching six shutout innings last time out.

The game finally got away from the Cardinals for good in the eighth, when Kodi Whitley issued four straight walks to bring in a run, and then T.J. McFarland hit the next batter to bring in a second run.

“The whole game was kind of out of character for us,” said Marmol. “If you’re going to do it, get it all out in one game.”