(Busch Stadium) When the phrase ‘walk-off’ is used, the first vision is usually a home run or some kind of hit to bring home the winning run. Yadier Molina added another wrinkle to the mix, delivering a sacrifice fly to bring home Kolten Wong with the winning run for the 5-4 NLDS Game 4 victory over Atlanta in 10 innings.
“I’ve been doing that for sixteen years,” smiled Molina when asked about his situational hitting. “I’m just trying to get it done right away. As a catcher, I know the pitcher’s going to try and get ahead in the count, I’m just trying to be aggressive.”
It was the first career postseason walk-off for Molina, who last drove in the winning run in the playoffs against New York in the 2006 NLCS.
“He’s been here, he’s been doing this for a lot of years,” Marcell Ozuna said. “He knows how you play in the postseason. He knows every situation. That’s a guy who’s working hard all time behind the plate, and offensively he always tries to get to move the runner, tries to bring him in and that kind of stuff. I don’t get surprised on him because he knows how to do it.”
“That’s what makes him one of the greatest of all time,” Paul Goldschmidt praised. “It’s not an accident. He’s working on it in the cage. He works on moving the runner, works on getting the ball in the air, works on hit and run, any situation, he’s always working on different situations. And that’s what makes him so good at that, and any other skill I’m sure, like catching, he’s working on different things there.
So that would just be the point I make, it’s not an accident, the success that he has; he works really hard at it. And it doesn’t go unnoticed. And it’s impressive.”
The Cardinals jumped out to an early lead as Ozuna followed Goldschmidt with back-to-back solo blasts in the first and then launched a pitch over the Atlanta bullpen in the fourth. Ozuna is the first Cardinal to hit two home runs in a playoff game since Carlos Beltran did so in Game 2 of the 2012 NLDS against Washington.
But Atlanta answered with a run in the third and three more in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Both teams had opportunities to score but were unable to do so–twice the Braves left the bases loaded. It wasn’t until in the eighth that Molina singled just off the outstretched glove of first baseman Freddie Freeman into right field to drive in Goldschmidt, who had doubled.
Molina struck again in the 10th after Wong lead off the inning with a ground rule double into left field and Goldschmidt was intentionally walked.
“We got the heart and we know that we’ve got the talent to comeback anytime that we want to, I’m glad that we did it tonight,” Molina said. “I like those moments, obviously. I don’t know what it is but my concentration level is up there. I just like those moments.”
The Cardinals now travel to Atlanta for the deciding Game 5 on Wednesday.
“You’ve got to try and keep calm,” Molina said. “Try to concentrate, try to play the game the right way–if you do that, you’re going to be in good shape.”
photo credit: STLBaseballWeekly.com