Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Molina, Cards Rounding into Form

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Molina, Cards Rounding into Form

Article excerpt

The Cardinals' 12-4 record in games caught by Yadier Molina since he returned from the disabled list is testament mostly to his inestimable receiving and pitch-calling skills. The hardest part of the recovery process from a torn ligament in his right thumb, hasty even by Molina standards he was supposed to be out eight to 12 weeks and was back in seven probably was how soon he would recapture his hitting stroke. He had strung together three consecutive .300 seasons with the possibility of a fourth.

In 13 of Molina's first 16 games back, Cardinals starting pitchers have allowed three earned runs or fewer. That comes as a surprise to very few.

But, after getting six singles in his first four games back, Molina went three for 25, again all singles, over his next eight games. There was some concern that he might have rushed his return on the offensive side, having played in only two minor-league rehabilitation games, albeit impressive ones.

In the bigger picture, the Cardinals having Molina again is always going to be a plus, but now they appear to have his bat, too.

Extending his hitting streak to five games Sunday in a 4-1 series- sweeping win over Colorado, Molina had a three-hit game, including his second double in the last three games. He is eight for his last 17 and up to .287, the average he had on July 9 when he jammed his right hand into the ground on a slide at third base and went on the disabled list.

Shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who rapped his 21st homer Sunday, said, "The lineup that we have right now is pretty good. Everybody is doing what they need to do, and Molina today got three hits. We need him doing that every day."

Well, perhaps not every day, but Molina's return deepens a lineup that too often this season has had trouble scoring. By outpointing the Rockies by eight runs over the weekend, the Cardinals have made it to a modest plus-10 for the year.

Molina suspected it would take awhile for him to recapture what he had, given his lengthy time away. "It's hard," he said. "This is the big leagues and, obviously, it's hard."

The strength in his hand is gradually returning, said Molina. "Slowly, but it's coming back. It's going to take time. …

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