We have witnessed many unlikely events already this season — Stephen Strasburg striking out 14 in his major league debut, four no-hitters, two perfect games, one almost perfect game, the first-place San Diego Padres and the National League actually winning an All-Star Game — but I can say without hesitation that Bengie Molina’s cycle against the Red Sox on Friday night was the most improbable of them all.
Molina was already 3-for-3 with a single, a double and a go-ahead grand slam when he came up to the plate in the top of the eighth inning. That’s a great night by anybody’s standards, but Molina wasn’t done. He proceeded to crank a long drive to distant center field, not far from where he hit his grand slam in the fifth inning. After the ball ricocheted off Eric Patterson’s glove and into Fenway’s famous nook in right center field, the notoriously slow-footed Molina legged out his sixth career triple and successfully completed the first cycle by a catcher since Chad Moeller on April 27, 2004.
Even more incredible, Molina is the eighth player and the first catcher to hit a grand slam and complete the cycle in the same game. It happened.
If you haven’t seen it already, I recommend watching the video footage here.
Here’s what Molina told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com:
“This means a lot,” Molina said. “I’m not a stats guy; everybody who
knows me knows that. That’s an individual thing, but being one of the
slowest guys in the world, and being criticized for it all my career, to
be able to do something like that really makes me feel good.”
The fact that Molina was forced to leave the game immediately after the triple with a tight right quadriceps is rather appropriate. It’s like he was punished for messing with the cosmos or something.
The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.
As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.
The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.
Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.
It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.
While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.