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Molina ties a major-league record in Cardinals win

Molina ties a major-league record in Cardinals win

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Manager Mike Matheny didn't realize Yadier Molina made history Sunday night. Neither did Francisco Pena. Even Molina had no idea.

But in front of 46,214 fans, the Cardinals' stalwart quietly tied a major-league record. He caught his 1,756th career game with the Cardinals, matching Cubs Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett for the most games caught with one team.

"Catchers love that stat," said Matheny, a former catcher. "You don't pay a whole lot of attention to many others, but games played, you realize you're doing something to help your team win if you continue to be in there. For Yadi to be able to say that's something he's accomplished on a team that's been significant almost every season, it says a lot about him."

On a historic night, it seemed fitting that Molina turned in a vintage performance in the Cardinals 5-0 win over the Cubs. He collected an RBI double in the eighth inning and played a part in every facet of the game.

With Molina calling pitches, rookie hurler Jack Flaherty loaded the bases with two outs in the third inning. Cubs slugger Kris Bryant strode to the plate. Sweat seeped through Flaherty's hat, and the young pitcher threw two balls. That prompted his catcher to take control. Molina walked to the mound and put an arm around the 22-year-old.

"I was trying to do a little bit too much," Flaherty said. "He slowed me down and talked about what we were going to do."

The mound visit proved crucial. The next three pitches were strikes. Flaherty blew a 97-mph fastball past the Cubs' third baseman to end the inning, and Molina pumped his fist as he marched to the dugout.

Molina leads all active catchers in caught stealing percentage, and he has won four Platinum Gloves, the award given to the best overall fielder in each league. With the score tied in the top of the sixth, he showed off his arm once again, nabbing Wilson Contreras as he tried to swipe second.

Half an inning later, Molina came up to hit with the bases loaded, and he received a loud ovation when the public-address announcer called his name. That's typical: fans always give the catcher the loudest cheer in pre-game introductions. Chants of "Ya-di! Ya-di!" are nothing new on nights at Busch Stadium.

"Yadi's our guy here," Pena said. "He's our man. That's a special thing when you see all the fans love him. It tells a lot about his personality and the kind of person he is."

Molina hit the ball sharply to second baseman Ben Zobrist, and the Cubs turned a double play. Still, the ground ball allowed Harrison Bader to score the go-ahead run.

"You don't want to strike out," Molina said. "You want to put the ball in play. Obviously when you hit the ball hard you want the result to go in your favor, but this time it wasn't. It's still one run, and that was the winning run."

The double play made sense on his record-tying night: Molina is sixth among active players in double plays grounded into.

Pitcher John Brebbia was excited when he heard about Molina's record. The catcher's got plenty more games to go, he said.

Next up is a trip to Philadelphia, where Molina will pass Hartnett, who last played in 1941.

"I'm real happy to be (in St. Louis) from my first day," Molina said. "I'm going to be happier to retire as a Cardinal, because this organization means a lot to me."

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