Two steals were part of Molina's busy night

Two steals were part of Molina's busy night

Two steals were part of Molina's busy night
ST. LOUIS -- There was little Yadier Molina didn't do in Friday's win, which he played while nursing a bruised thumb on his throwing hand.

For the seventh time this season, Molina recorded three hits in a game. He threw out a runner attempting to steal, and he guided starter Joe Kelly through a start that was several times on the verge of spinning out of control.

And then there were the two stolen bases, a feat that, perhaps surprisingly, Molina has actually accomplished twice before.

Certainly not gifted with above-average -- or, some would argue, even average -- speed, Molina has still managed to steal 10 bases this year. That is one more than his previous season high, set in 2009. He's taken those 10 bases in 11 attempts, too, which underscores how spot on he is in picking his spots.

"When they give me an opportunity to go," Molina said, "I'm going to take a chance."

The chances he takes, though, are extremely calculated. Molina, along with the help of the base coaches, gets a read on how long the pitcher takes to throw his pitch. He also notices when pitchers fall into the faulted assumption that Molina isn't fast enough to steal and therefore doesn't warrant their attention.

But Molina has the instincts to make up for that lack of speed.

"He has a sense of what could be there," manager Mike Matheny said. "Every once and a while it will bite you. For the ones that cost us, he way makes up for it. Sometimes people want to make a big deal when one hurts you, but he does so many other things because he's instinctual and not afraid of making a mistake. We keep encouraging him."

One of those errant baserunning decisions came last Sunday, when Molina was thrown out after initially breaking toward third on a ball in the dirt. The mistake was highlighted as the Cardinals went on to lose that game in 10 innings.

But then there have been the aggressive chances that have worked. Both of Molina's steals on Friday drew throwing errors from Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado. The steals also led to runs.

Molina currently leads all Major League catchers with 10 stolen bases and is only the 10th catcher to steal at least 10 bases in a season since 2004.

"He came up like all other young players, not wanting to make mistakes," Matheny said. "Some guys grow out of it. Some don't. You unleash another gear, I believe, when you can do that."