It appears Yadier Molina likes being 31.
He also likes breaking out of a hitting slump in a big way, as he went 4 for 6 with 4 RBI, 3 runs scored and a home run on the day after his birthday.
Oh, and there’s no doubt he likes winning games. Pretty sure he doesn’t mind leading the National League in hitting either.
He did all of those things on Sunday night, as the Cardinals entered the All-Star break with a 10-6 win over the Cubs and the best record in the major leagues as well as a 1-game lead over the Pirates in the NL Central. Yadi increased his NL-leading batting average to .341.
Of course, given that the Cards had 21 hits to go along with those 10 runs, Yadi was hardly alone in having a big night at the plate. Allen Craig increased his second-best-in-the-NL batting average to .333 by going 4 for 5 with a tie-breaking RBI in the top of the ninth inning. He’s also tied for second in the NL in RBI with 74.
Plus, there’s this: Pete Kozma — yes, Pete Kozma! — had 3 hits and 2 RBI.
Crazy, right? Just like the game itself.
It definitely was one for those who like offense, as the pitchers’ duel between All-Stars Adam Wainwright and Travis Wood didn’t exactly live up to the billing. Wood threw 100 pitches but only lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up 10 hits and 3 earned runs while Wainwright got one more out than that, threw 11 more pitches and gave up 4 earned runs on 8 hits.
In the battle of the bullpens, probably not a surprise that the Cardinals won — giving up 2 earned runs to the 7 allowed by the Cubs. Those 2 runs by the Cards bullpen, though — ugh. They were charged to Trevor Rosenthal, who left the game in the bottom of the 8th after giving up 2 singles. Newly named All-Star Edward Mujica came in, looking for a 4-out save. Instead he gave up a double to pinch-hitter Cody Ransom that tied the game (and unleashed a torrent of profanities among Cards fans everywhere).
So we went to the 9th inning with the game tied at 6 and Cubs closer Kevin Gregg in. After a Carlos Beltran triple (which, despite its rarity, didn’t even earn a video highlight on the Cards website), Craig delivered that go-ahead single and, as Dan Shulman said in the clip, was just doing it again for the majors’ leader with runners in scoring position. David Freese was up next and singled — his second hit of the night — and set the stage for Yadi.
(My favorite part of that clip is the Cards fan who has to mark the homer on his scorecard before he can cheer.)
The bottom of the 9th went smoothly for Mujica, with three straight middle-infield ground-outs. And that was a winner!
It was number 57 for the season, which is 21 games better than their 36 losses and gives them a winning percentage of .613 — best in the big leagues.
And now it’s a few days’ break for everyone but the six All-Stars. Thankfully there’s no one in the Home Run Derby tonight, so those guys can just kick back and relax at Citi Field tonight too.