Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina sprained his thumb last night on an awkward slide into third base. He underwent an to determine the severity of the injury. The verdict: severe. Molina has a torn ligament in his right thumb. He will have surgery and will miss 8-12 weeks, the team announced a few minutes ago.
Molina was hitting .287/.341/.409 with 16 doubles and seven home runs when he went down. That’s off the pace of where he’s been the past couple of years, but it’s still excellent production, and that’s before you factor in the fact that he is, bar none, the best catcher in all of baseball. This is a tremendous blow for the Cardinals, who have had the luxury of Molina’s outstanding work, almost uninterrupted, for the past decade.
In his place: Tony Cruz and Audry Perez. At least for now. If the Cardinals are looking to get a veteran presence to take Molina’s place or back either Cruz or Perez up, both John Buck and A.J. Pierzynski were DFA’d this week.
Not that either of them are a substitute for Yadi. Heck, you could stack all four of those guys on top of one another and they wouldn’t measure up to Yadi.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: