NEW YORK -- Make it 14 straight Opening Days when Yadier Molina has walked into the clubhouse, grabbed his gear and found his name in the lineup.In Cardinals history, that type of longevity has few peers. Only Stan Musial (18) and Lou Brock (15) have made more consecutive Opening Day
NEW YORK -- Make it 14 straight Opening Days when Yadier Molina has walked into the clubhouse, grabbed his gear and found his name in the lineup.
In Cardinals history, that type of longevity has few peers. Only Stan Musial (18) and Lou Brock (15) have made more consecutive Opening Day starts in red and white than Molina. Nobody has done so at one position.
All of that made Molina's season debut more notable than most. He set this particular club record when he strapped up for St. Louis' 9-4 loss Thursday to the Mets, and punctuated it with a home run in his first at-bat of the year.
Molina turned around a 97.7-mph fastball from Noah Syndergaard in the second inning, lining the club's first team homer of 2018 off the left-field foul pole. It gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead at the time.
"Special, especially off that pitcher," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "[Syndergaard] was throwing the ball well today , so it was a good moment for him."
The 35-year-old Molina has started every Opening Day for the Cardinals since 2005, his first full season. Only one catcher has made more, consecutively, at the position, Deadball Era backstop Ray Schalk.
"He's rare, that's all there is to it," Matheny said. "And I think that stat just validates what we already knew. I have the pleasure of watching him everyday and how he prepares and how he competes."
Barring injury, Molina should catch Schalk, who started 15 straight for the White Sox from 1913-27, next season. This most recent Opening Day marked the beginning of a three-year contract extension that will keep Molina in St. Louis through 2020. He plans to retire afterward, presumably with more records firmly in hand.
"It's a blessing," Molina said. "I feel blessed because I've been healthy and gave me a chance to play enough to be in this organization, which gave me the opportunity. It's a great honor."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.