Yadier Molina

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Friday, April 23, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — With intrigue surrounding the pair as the Cardinals and Reds resumed their rivalry at Busch Stadium Friday night, Yadier Molina and Nick Castellanos couldn't help but take center stage throughout the game's action. 

As he so often does, Molina rose to the occasion in the reunion game Friday, jump-starting a previously dormant Cardinals offense in a 5-4 win against Reds hurler Sonny Gray.

In his first at-bat of the night, Molina smoked a home run deep into the stands in left field to put the Cardinals on the board, 1-0. He then continued his torrid start to the season with an RBI double his next time at bat, but ran into injury trouble his third time at the dish.

As he walked away from the plate following a strikeout, Molina showed some visible discomfort, ultimately leaving the game the following inning without returning to the field. Shortly after Andrew Knizner replaced him, the Cardinals announced that Molina had been removed due to "right foot soreness."

The injury news put a damper on what had been an entertaining reunion between Molina and Castellanos. After his dust-up with Molina in game two of the 2021 season, the Cincinnati Reds slugger made it clear he held no ill will toward the longtime Cardinals backstop.

"That guy could have punched me in the face and I'd still ask him for a signed jersey," Castellanos quipped after the game on April 3. "I've got nothing but respect for that cat, bro. He's a real one."

Molina's actions just after Friday's game got underway seemed to indicate the feeling was mutual.

As Cardinals fans doused Castellanos with a chorus of boos as he was announced for his first plate appearance of the night, Molina shot him a knowing wink at home plate to show there was no lingering resentment from his side of the scuffle.

Molina, of course, has long since grown accustomed to the booing every time he takes a step at Great American Ballpark. Fans in Cincy have been giving him grief ever since that infamous exchange between him and Brandon Phillips in 2010. Reds fans even booed Molina when he was announced before the All-Star Game there in 2015. Showing disdain for Yadi is a way of life for Cincinnati baseball fans.

In order for Castellanos to feel a proportionate amount of love at Busch Stadium, St. Louis fans have some serious catching up to do. They're getting their chances, though, as Castellanos continued to assert his presence with a long home run of his own in the sixth inning Friday. The 1000th hit of Castellanos' MLB career traveled a whopping 421 feet and got the Reds on the board for the first and only time against Cardinals starter Kwang Hyun Kim.

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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