Something interesting happened on Thursday afternoon in the Cubs-Cardinals game: a baseball literally stuck to catcher Yadier Molina. In the top of the seventh inning, reliever Brett Cecil threw a 0-2 pitch in the dirt that Matt Szczur swung over. Molina went to his knees to block the ball and the ball stuck to his chest protector. Molina had no idea where the ball went, so Szczur reached safely on the strikeout. Molina finally realized what happened, so he had a laugh about it.
Molina wasn’t laughing after the game when he was asked if he put anything on his chest protector. Because how else would a baseball defy the laws of gravity? “That’s a dumb question,” Molina responded, per Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Altering a ball with a substance — which Molina presumably could have done by rubbing his hand over his chest protector before returning the ball to his pitcher — is against baseball’s rules, of course. But there’s a bit of an unspoken rule where players are allowed to do it as long as they’re not obvious about it. The problem with past offenders like Michael Pineda is that they were way too obvious. Molina would fall under “too obvious” as well.
Aside from Molina’s flippant response, we haven’t heard any explanation about what happened. Hopefully Cecil and/or manager Mike Matheny provide some clarification.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.
Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.
In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.