10/20/10 2:10 AM ET
Molina is still a thorn in Yankees' side
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Molina's blast -- which sailed into the left-field stands -- guaranteed a smooth saunter around the basepaths, as he pointed up at his wife and mother in attendance. Yankees manager Joe Girardi -- who made the decision to walk the left-handed-hitting David Murphy to face Molina in a righty-vs.-righty matchup -- wasn't quite as uplifted about the result of the fateful at-bat."We liked the matchup, A.J. against Molina," Girardi said. "We did. And unfortunately, it didn't work out." The idea to walk Murphy -- who entered Tuesday a career 5-for-17 (.294) hitter with a homer against Burnett -- likely wouldn't have happened if not for a smart baserunning play by Nelson Cruz, who tagged up on Ian Kinsler's one-out fly ball to leave first base open. Molina, a career 1-for-5 hitter against Burnett, watched Murphy draw the free pass but didn't necessarily use it as motivation. "He kills right-handers, so why not walk him and face me?" said Molina, who had already reached base twice. "I haven't been having a great season. I don't think it's a bad move. I think it's the right move that went wrong." Molina's track record says otherwise. In addition to a monster ALDS against the Yankees in '05, Molina -- who entered the game with a .318 postseason average -- had more than just his history on his side. Tuesday was also the four-year anniversary of his brother, Yadier Molina, clubbing a ninth-inning tiebreaking homer that lifted the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-1 NLCS win over the New York Mets. "I don't think it's the same," said Molina, who remembers sitting in his kitchen screaming at his brother through the television to sit on the changeup. "It's very happy for both of us, but he enjoyed it a lot. I'm just here still waiting for one more game." Still, in a series headlined by the pitching prowess of ace Cliff Lee and the offensive onslaught of Josh Hamilton -- who delivered two homers on Tuesday -- Molina's blast may be remembered as the straw that broke the defending champion Yankees' back. "It was a huge lift," said Hamilton. "[Molina] gets it done in the postseason, and he's done it for a long time. He came through and to just see him get fired up -- he's a pretty low-key guy -- got everyone else pretty fired up." "The things he's doing for us offensively, I think it's been forgotten, because he got off to a bad start this year," Washington said of Molina, who chipped in two homers and 19 RBIs in 57 games with Texas. "But if you look on the back of his baseball card, he's always been an RBI guy. He finds ways to get RBIs in, and today we certainly needed someone to step up. And in a crucial situation there, he stepped up."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.