Yadier Molina has been a consistent presence for Team Puerto Rico through four World Baseball Classics. In the island's 11-0 victory over Venezuela on Friday, the 34-year-old Cardinals backstop showed why he's still a major asset.Molina went 2-for-4 on the night and helped Puerto Rico pull away in the sixth
Yadier Molina has been a consistent presence for Team Puerto Rico through four World Baseball Classics. In the island's 11-0 victory over Venezuela on Friday, the 34-year-old Cardinals backstop showed why he's still a major asset.
Molina went 2-for-4 on the night and helped Puerto Rico pull away in the sixth inning when he belted a two-run homer, extending the lead to 5-0.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
The seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner also helped guide Puerto Rico's pitching staff to a seven-inning, three-hit shutout. Mets right-hander Seth Lugo impressed by outdueling Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, pitching 5 1/3 scoreless frames with one hit and three strikeouts.
"I didn't have to worry about my game plan," Lugo said. "Just stick with [Molina] and trust what he's calling, and it made it that much easier.
"A couple times he worked on my mechanics and fixed up on that while I was out there, said we've got to slow down, not make it too nasty, just trust it and throw where my target is. It just gives you a big boost of confidence."
In what could be his final appearance in the international tournament, Molina is looking to add a World Baseball Classic title to his two World Series rings and numerous individual accolades. Puerto Rico came close in the last tournament, finishing as the runner-up to the Dominican Republic in 2013.
"Yadi Molina, he has always been a determining factor," Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He's been the master of pitchers, and then with a lineup with Venezuela, which are people established in the big leagues, that gives us a chance to look at videos, look at information, having Yadi Molina or José Molina as a coach who have faced them in countless occasions, and that helps us establish our working plan."
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com.