Cardinals marvel as Molina leads team to first victory -

Cardinals marvel as Molina leads team to first victory

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) — Matt Holliday perhaps said it best Monday. According to winning starter Adam Wainwright, the veteran left fielder chuckled as the team headed into the clubhouse and said “Well, Yadi wins.”

For more on Monday's game, click here. 

In a game defined by stellar pitching, rocky defense and a solitary run, Yadier Molina certainly made Holliday’s assessment a fair one. 

The game began with the Reds’ Johnny Cueto and Wainwright trading stellar half innings. Both had command of the pitches and combined to strike out 11 of the first 21 hitters.

For Wainwright, it was Molina that helped set the tone early. 

“He and I get each other so well and we were on the same page from the very first pitch of the game,” he said.

In the third, Brandon Phillips drew a walk following a Billy Hamilton strikeout. When Joey Votto spun a ball of the end of the bat, Molina darted out in front of the plate, snagged the ball before it went foul and fired a laser to second base for a 2-6-3 double play to end the inning. It was a play that combined athleticism and snap reaction, and killed the Reds’ best threat to that point. 

Both starters controlled the game into the seventh, until Molina struck again. Standing in to a chorus of boos that are now familiar in Cincinnati, the 31-year-old catcher took the first pitch of the at bat over the wall in left. 

“I was hoping down the middle and he did,” Molina said. “He threw me something down the middle, and I put a good swing on it.”

It would prove to be the only run of the game, and enough to give the Cardinals their first win of 2014. 

“That guy, you can’t say enough about him,” said Matt Carpenter after the game. “He’s got a knack for getting the big hit and today is another example of that.”

Wainwright went further in his praise, calling Molina the best he’s ever seen at catcher. 

“If you ask around the league he’s probably the most hard-to-replace player there is for a team. You can replace a starter or reliever or an infielder or an outfielder,” Wainwright said. “I just don’t know if you can replace all of what he does for each and every game he catches. He’s incredible.”

Wainwright won his first Opening Day start, and notched his 100th win, but after the game he seemed to agree with Holliday’s summation. This day belonged to Molina. 

“It was his game today and I was lucky to be a part of it,” he said. 

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