(BaseballStL) — Yadier Molina never hits the batter’s box in Cincinnati without a shower of boos raining down. Like Brandon Phillips in St. Louis, Molina is the fan favorite to hate. But in 2014, it’s the Reds pitching staff that’s groaning when they see him coming.
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So far this season, Molina has seven hits, two bombs, two doubles and six RBIs in 21 at bats. He’s only struck out twice and has scored three runs. It’s been a gruesome onslaught against a division rival, and his 3-for-5 performance Tuesday kept the pressure on.
Molina led off an inning four times and recorded all three hits in those at bats.
His home run in the second began the scoring, and he later singled and doubled in lead off appearances.
“I hate to put that on one guy’s shoulders that you need to set the tone for the rest of the offense or the rest of the team, but it’s not something he shies away from,” said Mike Matheny after the game. “He’s always wanting to be up there in big situations and that big situation can just be to get something going, let alone to jump a ball out of the park or drive a ball deep into the gaps.”
Molina did both Tuesday, picking up his third home run and second double.
With that homer, the veteran catcher is already a quarter of the way to his 2013 total of 12. With that kind of production, the Cardinal coaching staff is forced to consider his place in the lineup.
Batting fifth is clearly a comfortable spot for Molina, but with Allen Craig struggling early in the year, a case could be made for the star backstop to hit cleanup.
“We think about it every day. You don’t like to get in the way of it, but we also need to do what’s best for the club. So we always talk about it,” Matheny said. “These guys are all team guys and their egos don’t get in the way. But we also don’t like to mess with things too much if we don’t have to.”
The lineup has seen plenty of adjustments already, and player reactions seem to prove their manager right.
The two player who have been moved the most, Peter Bourjos and Kolten Wong, echoed each other when asked about bouncing between the second and eighth spot in the order.
“As long as I’m in the lineup that’s all that matters,” Wong said with a smile. “Either me or Pete up there, we’re going to try our best to get the job done.”
“I really don’t care where I’m hitting in the lineup, I just want to help the team win,” said Bourjos.
The balanced attack certainly makes for opportunities throughout the order, as Molina showed Tuesday. Who knows- with three out of four innings beginning with him on base, the 31-year-old might end up batting leadoff.