Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Reds 4

Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Reds 4

By Rob Rains

A couple of hours before the Cardinals took the field for Thursday night’s game, manager Mike Shildt discussed what the return of Yadier Molina meant to the team’s lineup.

“It’s always great to have Yadi back,” Shildt said.

It certainly was in the game against the Reds, the first for the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in 25 days and the first game for Molina since he was one of 10 players who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Activated before the game from the injured list, Molina came to the plate with the bases loaded in the second inning for his first at-bat in 22 days – and lined a two-run single to right.

His night wasn’t done. With the Cardinals trailing 4-2 in the ninth, he had a key caught stealing to help keep it a two-run game. Then came the bottom of the ninth, when he again came up to bat with the bases loaded after a balk had cut the deficit to 4-3.

This time, Molina singled off the glove of pitcher Raisal Iglesias to drive in his third run of the game and tie the score, setting the stage for Kolten Wong’s walk-off single that gave the Cardinals the 5-4 win.

“Yadi is absolutely amazing,” Wong said, “This dude just came out of quarantine and got a big knock for us and drove in two runs. If that guy’s not a Hall of Famer I don’t know who is.”

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals had only two hits in between Molina’s single in the second and Dexter Fowler’s single in the ninth in front of Molina’s game-tying hit … Brad Miller led off the ninth and was hit by a pitch before Tyler O’Neill drew a walk. Fowler’s single loaded the bases for Molina and the infield single that tied the game. After Dylan Carlson struck out, Wong came up with the Reds using a five-man infield and he lofted a single to right, the fifth walk-off hit of his career but the first that wasn’t a home run.

On the mound: The rally gave Seth Elledge the first win of his career. He had relieved to start the ninth and gave up a hit and three walks but Molina’s caught stealing helped keep the Reds from scoring. He got out of the bases loaded jam by striking out Eugenio Suarez … The Reds scored two unearned runs off Adam Wainwright in the first because of errors by Paul Goldschmidt and Miller, and added runs on a home run by Freddy Galvis in the second and an RBI double by Mike Moustakas in the third, but Wainwright then retired the next 15 hitters he faced before coming out of the game after the seventh inning.

Key stat: The combination of Molina batting in the ninth inning, and with the bases loaded, usually turns out well for the Cardinals. Since the start of the 2018 season, Molina has gone 26-of-69, a .377 average, with 14 RBIs in the ninth inning. In his career with the bases loaded, Molina’s two hits on Thursday night raised his average to .329 (64-of-195).

Worth noting: Molina returned at the same time Matt Wieters was placed on the injured list because of a broken toe. He was hurt when he was hit by a foul tip … Paul DeJong is reporting to Springfield so he can get some live at-bats after his stint on the COVID-19 injured list. The plan is that he likely will rejoin the team on Monday … The Cardinals have not finalized the role for Carlos Martinez when he returns, but with only five weeks left in the season, it might be easier for him to return as a reliever which will require a shorter time to prepare than if he was going to be stretched out as a starter … Ryan Helsley also has been cleared medically, according to John Mozeliak … The Cardinals will wear replica uniforms from 1930 honoring the Negro League St. Louis Stars in a game on Sept. 22 against the Royals, who will wear replica uniforms honoring the Kansas City Monarchs.

Looking ahead: Dakota Hudson will get the start on Friday in the second game of the four-game series against the Reds.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.