TOWER GROVE • In back-to-back games at Busch Stadium this week, Yadier Molina was at the plate for an attempted double steal and on the front end of a successful double steal.
While manager Mike Matheny continues to suggest the team is just going to be “opportunistic” on the bases, the Cardinals look every bit the kind of team that will push purposefully on the bases. They will act, not just react. They thought they could steal a run in the ninth inning Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, and the delayed double steal was not run (perhaps literally) correctly. On Tuesday, they were back a-go-go against Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals stole four bases to give them 20 this season. That is tied for the second-most in the National League.
Molina had two of those four.
With four steals already this season, Molina is an example of the team’s aggressive approach, an example of stealing a base with moxie as well as foot speed, and an example of the ways the Cardinals have found to score. He’s taking a run at history when nobody is looking.
On to the rest of the daily 10-item lineup:
MOLINA ON THE MOVE I (2): Molina’s two steals on Tuesday night made him the first catcher for the Cardinals to swipe two bases in a game since … he did it in 2005. The two-steal games tend to come in tandems. The two times before Molina’s double steals that a Cardinals’ catcher pulled off repeat thefts was Eli Marrero in 1998 and Marrero in 1997. Tim McCarver did it in 1967, twice. Mike Gonzalez did it in 1918, twice. According to researcher Tom Orf, here are the seven times since 1967 that a Cardinals catcher has stolen two bases in a game:
Yadier Molina – May 1, 2012 vs. Pittsburgh
Yadier Molina – Aug 28, 2005 vs. Washington
Eli Marrero – Aug 19, 1998 vs. Chicago Cubs
Eli Marrero – Sept. 14, 1997 vs. San Diego
Tony Pena – July 19, 1989 vs. San Francisco
Tim McCarver – Aug 27, 1967 vs. LA Dodgers
Tim McCarver – July 9, 1967 vs. Philadelphia
CHANGE THE CONVERSATION (3): Video of the local television reporter’s flirty interview with World Series MVP David Freese has gone viral. Reaction has ranged from the journalism professor erudite to message board venom. I received an email that in short said it “set local journalism back,” and others have been strongly opposed to the perception that is sends of female journalists, who fight unfair stereotypes in the sports world. A little CSI: Internet will show that the national attention for the local interview started with a St. Louis-based baseball writer making the point that this reflected poorly on the profession, but not her job. That was an excellent point that got lost in the rush to show righteous indignation. Yes, the interview was supposed to be feature-y. No, that’s not a synonym for silly. Yes, I cringed along with Freese when watching it. No, I didn’t hear a word about the charity that he was there to support. Yes, in some corners of baseball coverage it added to this wrongheaded perception that St. Louis is a soft hero-worshiping market. (Pffft. That’s an outdated myth for another time.) But what we are all missing is not how this example “set journalism back” but that piece of the discussion that has taken journalism -- local baseball journalism – a step forward.
Some people may know that I have a fondness for the history of baseball writers in St. Louis. It’s my argument that since J. Roy Stockton traveled to Cuba in 1915 to cover the St. Louis Federal League’s team’s spring training, baseball in St. Louis has been covered continuously by a Hall of Fame baseball writer, from Stockton through Bob Broeg and now with Rick Hummel. There is a tremendous history of baseball writing. And this year there is history in the press box. MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, a Georgia native and Mizzou grad, is the first female beat writer covering the Cardinals on a full-time basis. The first. Now, that’s a stride worth talking about.
THE POLL (4): The return of Allen Craig on Tuesday night and playing time available to him at first base gives him an unexpected opportunity for someone who missed the first month of the season. He can hit a homer before the two guys he’s (ostensibly) replacing. Lance Berkman hasn’t hit one because of playing time. Albert Pujols hasn’t hit one because his new jersey is made of chain mail. There was an interesting stat on MLB Network late last night about how Pujols’ streak without a homer to start a season compares with two other sluggers with at least 400 career homers:
Albert Pujols, LAA – 96 AB to start 2012, total for season TBD
Eddie Murray, CLE – 109 AB to start 1996, total for season 22
Ken Griffey Jr., CIN – 98 AB to start 2010, total for season ZERO*
* Griffey retired before streak could continue
It’s a fascinating stat because it’s a fascinating start for the three-time MVP in his new home. And it leads to a less-than-fascinating and rather obvious poll question. You can find it above this and below the picture.
MOLINA ON THE MOVE II (5): With 29 career stolen bases, Molina has run up to second place in the franchise’s history when it comes to catchers doing what they're paid to stop: steal bases. Since 1901, the only full-time catcher with more stolen bases than Molina is Jimmie Wilson, who stole 41 from 1928 to 1933. Wilson was a standout soccer player who had a long career at catcher in the majors, but his Cardinals fame isn’t any of the runs he made around the bases but the run he made across the diamond. Wilson was traded during a game from Philadelphia to St. Louis and there are reports that he started the game in one jersey and finished it on the bench in the other jersey. Given that it’s unlikely that will happen to Molina, he can catch Wilson’s franchise mark.
LET’S GO STREAKING (6): There are two streaks of note going into tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. First, Jon Jay’s hitting streak. Second, Carlos Beltran’s spiral.
Jay is batting .462/.500/.641 during his 10-game hitting streak.
Beltran has started 15 consecutive games and is in a 3-for-32 (.094) slump with 13 strikeouts in that span.
FARM REPORT (7): There’s no stopping the Big 0. Oscar Taveras hit his seventh home run of the season as Class AA Springfield ended a losing swirl with a 12-5 victory at home. Taveras had two hits, two runs and two RBIs to go with his home run. He’s now hitting .347 this season in the Texas League. He’s 19. … Kolten Wong had three hits and three runs scored, and both catcher Audry Perez and Greg Garcia had a couple RBIs apiece. … Lefty Tyler Lyons got his first win of the season with an impressive six innings. He allowed one run on four hits and struck out seven. The lone run came on a homer. … Class AAA Memphis lost 13-4 as Cubs’ top prospect Brett Jackson, who is being tailored for a major-league jersey at some point this season, had four hits and two doubles from the leadoff spot. … Nick Additon allowed eight runs on 11 hits and two walks through his difficult 3 2/3 innings. He struck out only one batter. … Jess Todd followed and was able to absorb two innings but also allowed three runs on six hits. … Leadoff hitter Adron Chambers scored three runs and had two hits to raise his season average to .306. No. 2 hitter Ryan Jackson also had two hits and is batting .303. … With Craig in the majors, Matt Adams returned to first base with two hits and an RBI. … High-A Palm Beach won, 9-3. Johnathan Rodriguez, at first base, had three hits and his first home run of the season. … Nick Longmire drove in three runs for the PB-Cards. … Seth Maness continued his strong start to the season with seven innings. He scattered eight hits and walked none. He allowed three runs, got 10 groundouts, and struck out a batter. … Quad Cities lost both parts of a doubleheader. The River Bandits were shutout in the second game, 8-0. QC managed two hits, one of which was a triple from Anthony Garcia. Robert Stock pitched an inning in relief and allowed two runs on two hits and two walks.
GAMER YOU’VE GOTTA READ (8): From Bryce Harper’s home debut, Washington Post baseball writer Adam Kilgore writes about a throw that didn’t result in an out, but what a throw it was.
HIT THE LINKS (9): Oh, that wickedly witty baseball schedule. Jeff Suppan is back in the majors tonight, starting for San Diego and of course his return comes against the Milwaukee Brewers. Bill Center explains how the 2006 NLCS MVP has returned to the majors in this story from The Union-Tribune. … At MLB.com, Mark Sheldon explains how big lefty Aroldis Chapman has slowed “down to find fast track.” … Brewers lefty Randy Wolf won his second game of the season but told Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he “still kind of sucks.” … Cool cover story from Matt Eddy at Baseball America about the shifting standards for offense at second base. … Stephen Strasburg is so 2009. Bryce Harper is soooo last week. Jerry Crasnick, at ESPN.com, introduces us to the next 19-year-old uber-prospect. No, not Taveras. It’s Dylan Bundy, a righty in Baltimore’s system. …
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters, according to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that maybe there’s a reason why the Cardinals have not lost a step despite losing an MVP and Hall of Fame manager.
“Albert’s absence has probably put the light on more guys who were doing a good job last year but maybe didn’t get the recognition because of Albert’s presence,” Hurdle said. “They’re doing a very businesslike job. It’s a good ballclub, and they got a smart man (Mike Matheny) to take (manager) Tony (La Russa’s) place. So I don’t see this thing swinging in the opposite direction anytime soon. It’s a good organization.”
CLOSING REMARK (10): It wasn’t a particularly memorable Cardinals game six years ago tonight. But I’ll never forget it. They lost 3-2 in Cincinnati when Javier Valentin singled off Brian Falkenborg in the bottom of the ninth. Sidney Ponson started and went six OK innings. What happened wasn’t the reason I remember it. Where I watched it is. I was at the hospital for the birth of my first and only kid, the boy wonder. So, I won’t bore you with gooey sentimentality. (I already got that out of my system last night over at the personal blog I’ve tried to keep.) But I will use this as an option to say two things.
Happy Birthday to Ian and his mother.
And, while I'm writing as a father I'd like to piggyback on a talk we had in the press box last night and a statement I put up on Twitter. Can we stop throwing baseballs back on the field after catching a home run by an opposing player?
I get that you want to show what a real fan you are. I get that you want to show up that ballplayer circling the bases by showing how you don’t want his stinkin' trinket. That’s cool. You're awesome. But please, there's another way to get rid of that junk. Give it to someone who will think it's a treasure. Find the nearest kid and give it to him or her. Make that kid's night. Make a baseball fan that night.
Don’t throw the ball back. Hand it forward.