Molina reaches 2,000 games behind plate but Cardinals shut out by Nationals

Wednesday’s Game Report: Nationals 6, Cardinals 0

By Rob Rains

The familiar chant of “Yadi, Yadi, Yadi” broke out just one pitch into the game on Wednesday as the Cardinals and their fans acknowledged the achievement of Yadier Molina catching his 2,000th career game.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, that was all the fans at Busch Stadium had to cheer about.

With Adam Wainwright, fittingly, on the mound, the first pitch was thrown out of play. He stepped behind the mound and used his arms to encourage a loud standing ovation for Molina, the sixth player in MLB history to catch 2,000 games but the first to do it all for one team.

“How many times have I had a chance to do that in my career?” Wainwright said. “Once in the All-Star Game for Derek Jeter and today. It’s a treat to be a part of a moment like that.

“Anytime you hear ‘the only one in MLB history’ to do anything that’s pretty cool. Two thousand games, with the same team, as a catcher. He’s a really special player. I would like to have seen him take a Cal Ripken like lap around the field. I’m glad he’s my catcher.”

It’s a legacy that began on June 3, 2004, when Molina made his Cardinals debut, catching Woody Williams. Over the 17 years since, Molina has caught 163 pitchers for at lease one out, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau, a list that alphabetically runs from Sandy Alcantara to Mark Worrell.

Nobody has worked with Molina more than Wainwright with Wednesday marking the 277th time they have started a game together and the 321st time overall that the two have appeared in the same game, 60 feet, 6 inches apart.

One of the pitchers on the list is Tyson Ross, the brother of the starter for the Nationals on Wednesday, Joe Ross, whose performance stole the day’s spotlight from Molina.

Ross allowed just four hits over six innings as the Cardinals were shut out for the first time this season.

That was the regret for the day, that Molina didn’t get the one thing he wanted the most on his special day – a win.

“It was a pretty neat moment,” Molina said. “To be honest it’s just another number. I just want to play the game for our team and our city. I always think about the team first. I wish the day had ended up with a different result. If we had won the game it would have been more special for me.”

That attitude came as no surprise to manager Mike Shildt.

“That’s why he’s such a winner,” Shildt said. “We’re not excited about the outcome of today’s game. He wants to win. That’s the bottom line. That’s why he shows up every day, that’s his hunger, and I have a lot of respect for it.

“Think of all the different accomplishments that need to take place for that to happen. You need to be a good player for one, you need to be a consistent player. You look at Yadi and you see a guy who is hungry. It’s the off-season dedication, it’s the 6 a.m. work in spring training. On a off day, you walk down the hall and there’s Yadi. It’s no coincidence.

“The guy has an unbelievable combination of skill sets, physical and mental. It’s a hell of an accomplishment and speaks to a lot of things. He’s been a pillar of the organization. I was glad to be part of it.”

Here is how Wednesday’s game broke down:

At the plate: Molina had one of the Cardinals’ hits, a first-inning single that extended his hitting streak to 10 games … Tommy Edman also extended his streak to 10 games, tying his career high, with a double in the third … Their only other hits were a single by Edmundo Sosa, who started at shortstop, in the fifth and a double by Nolan Arenado in the sixth … The Cardinals best scoring chance came in the seventh, when they loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter, but Edman popped out to end the inning.

On the mound: Wainwright got out of a bases loaded jam in the second but gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the third … The Nationals added two more runs in the fifth and one off Jordan Hicks in the sixth … A walk, wild pitch and a bloop double off Giovanny Gallegos gave the Nationals their final run in the eighth.

Key stat: The 14 runs scored by the Cardinals on Tuesday night was the 14th time they have reached that total or more in a game since 2010. What happened the day after, however, was statistically pretty predictable. On the day after those 14 games, Cardinals have gone 2-12 and only three times scored more than four runs.. Wednesday’s game was the eighth time they were held to two or fewer runs a day after scoring 14 or more in the last 11 years.

Worth noting: With Paul DeJong getting their first days off of the season, the four Cardinals have appeared in all 12 games so far – Edman, Arenado, Matt Carpenter and Dylan Carlson. Carlson did not start for the first time on Wednesday but entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh … The Cardinals officially announced the signing of Luis Mario Pina, a 17-year-old international free agent. The outfielder is a native of Cuba … It was announced on Wednesday that the Cardinals game on May 13 at Milwaukee will be broadcast on YouTubeTV, one of the midweek games that network is broadcasting this season … Tickets for the 12 games at Busch Stadium in May will go on sale on Friday. The seating capacity will remain at 32 percent, or just under 15,000 tickets per game.

Up next: After a day off Thursday, the Cardinals will begin a six-game trip on Friday night with the first of three games in Philadelphia. Carlos Martinez is the scheduled starter. That series will be followed by three games against the Nationals in Washington, D.C.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports

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