TORONTO -- Manager Mike Matheny's aim to give Yadier Molina a second consecutive day off may have been foiled by the last-minute necessity to sub him in as a designated hitter on Sunday. But regardless, Matheny's hope is that a series away from catching provided Molina with the mental respite needed to release some brewing frustration.
Molina entered Sunday batting .128 over the team's last 13 games. That included a 3-for-13 start to the road trip. The results were positive on Sunday, as Molina -- added to the lineup only because Matt Holliday (lower back tightness) had to be pulled at the last minute -- went 1-for-3 with a walk and a single in the Cards' 5-0 win over the Blue Jays.
"Yadi was excited to get in there today," manager Mike Matheny said. "He found a couple things today while he was swinging in [batting practice]. [Having to remove Holliday] happened last minute. He saw that opening and stuck his foot in it, and I'm glad he did."
The decision to let Tony Cruz start behind the plate for a third consecutive game was made, Matheny said, after the Cardinals' win on Saturday. Cruz contributed a two-RBI performance and caught Shelby Miller's second career shutout, as the Cardinals stopped their two-game slide.
With an off-day ahead on Monday, Molina will have had four days off from catching when he returns to the field on Tuesday.
"We're going to unleash the beast on Tuesday," Matheny said. "When he is going good, it is hard to talk him into having one of those days [off]. I get that. This is a better conversation when things aren't going well, like right now -- because he realizes it. He sees it. He's tried everything else except, 'Let me take a step back and take a breath.'
"He's tried hitting extra. He's tried shutting down hitting. He's tried cage stuff. Once again, I don't think he's being a real good evaluator of how he's doing. He's just had a couple games here where it's more mental, where he's just fatigued -- mentally fatigued from grinding in his mind, and that's just because he cares so much about this team."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.