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‘Anything you can do’: A week after Pujols did it, Yadi makes first-career pitching appearance for Cardinals

Molina matched Pujols by allowing four earned runs on two home runs in his inning of work.
St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina (4), right, celebrates with teammate Albert Pujols after...
St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina (4), right, celebrates with teammate Albert Pujols after hitting a two run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, May 15, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Joe Puetz)(Joe Puetz | AP)
Published: May. 22, 2022 at 2:40 PM CDT
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PITTSBURGH (KMOV) - As the Cardinals piled on the runs on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, it seemed like a possibility that more position-player-pitching shenanigans could take place toward the end of a win over the Pirates. Once Pittsburgh opted for second baseman Josh VanMeter to pitch the top of the ninth inning for its side, it felt especially likely that the Cardinals would do something similar in the bottom half.

Enter Yadi.

Like his teammate and long-time pal Albert Pujols did a week ago in a lopsided Cardinals’ win over the San Francisco Giants, Yadier Molina got the chance Sunday to close out the game for St. Louis on the pitcher’s mound—the first pitching appearance of his 19-year MLB playing career.

Molina threw 20 pitches, 14 strikes, and recorded the final three outs of the Cardinals’ 18-4 win over the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. He surrendered four runs on four hits—two of which were home runs—as teammates like Pujols, Adam Wainwright and Nolan Arenado watched gleefully from the dugout.

Earlier in the game, the Peacock television broadcast interviewed Cardinals manager Oli Marmol and made a reference to last weekend’s pitching performance by Pujols, noting that Pujols was rested and ready to go if needed to provide some relief for the bullpen later in the day.

Though Pujols likely would have been willing to take another crack at pitching—he came off the bench to hit a pair of home runs in the win on Sunday—it was understandably Yadi’s turn to give it a go.

Molina was a quick worker on the mound, entering into a subdued wind-up for the next pitch almost immediately after receiving the previous ball back from catcher Andrew Knizner.

One unintended consequence for the hopeful future Hall of Famer: His Wins Above Replacement might take a bit of a hit after allowing four earned runs in his only career appearance on the mound. Perhaps more importantly, Yadi gave up the shutout after Angel Rondon and T.J. McFarland tossed eight scoreless innings in relief of Steven Matz, who left the game due to shoulder stiffness after throwing only four pitches.

“I know he was bummed,” Tommy Edman joked regarding the blown shutout in a post-game TV interview on the field. “He saw Albert pitch last week and I know he was trying to do just a little bit better than him.”

Edman surmised that the results of Pujols’ and Molina’s respective pitching appearances were pretty equal. Both surrendered a pair of home runs, and both players now boast a career pitching ERA of 36.00 in the big leagues. But Edman suggested the tie-breaker might go to Molina based on the home runs he allowed being wall-scrapers that barely eked over the fence.

“Yadi’s just barely snuck out,” Edman said. “I think he’ll probably say something about that.”