Sorry, but I still think Yadier Molina choked

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Choking, in my view, is what happens when someone faces a pressure situation and responds in an unusual and suboptimal way. Sometimes it’s more physical than mental – I know I missed a couple of wide open nets playing soccer back in the day — and sometimes it’s all mental. My opinion is that Yadier Molina choked when he decided to drop down a sac bunt in the top of the ninth inning down a run against the Padres last night.

Make no mistake: Molina had never before bunted in such a situation. Of the 42 sac bunt attempts he had made in his career, three had come with his team down a run. All three of those — one in 2005, one in 2006 and one in 2007* — had come with his team at home, when playing for the tie makes a lot more sense. They also all came when Molina was a lesser hitter than he is now.

So, Molina made a decision he wouldn’t normally make. It took place in the ninth inning of a big game with the Cardinals on the verge of being swept. And it hurt the Cardinals’ chances of winning (by drastically reducing the chances of a multi-run inning). That’s pretty much my definition of choking.

*(In case you were curious, he was successful on all three of those bunt attempts and two of them helped the Cardinals win the game. The 2005 bunt came in the seventh inning and led to a game-tying run, though given that two hits followed, one guesses they would have at least tied it regardless. In the 2006 game, Molina gave up the out in the ninth and the Cardinals went on to score two runs to win anyway. In the 2007 loss to the Pirates, Albert Pujols ended up popping up with the bases loaded to end it.)

Manuel Margot exits game with apparent wrist injury

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Padres outfielder Manuel Margot was pulled from Friday’s game after sustaining an injury on an attempted catch in the eighth inning. Margot laid out in center field to snare Cesar Hernandez‘s double, but appeared to injure his left wrist in the process. Little is known about the precise nature or severity of the injury so far, but Margot underwent an evaluation following the incident and should have a clearer picture of his recovery timetable soon.

It’s a disappointing turn of events for the 23-year-old outfielder, who finished the game batting .245/.312/.365 with 25 extra-base hits and a .677 OPS through 312 PA. This isn’t the first time he’s been sidelined with wrist issues this season; he hyperextended his left wrist on another diving catch back in mid-May, though he managed to successfully avoid the disabled list (and a lengthy setback) after taking a few days off. It’s not clear whether he’ll be that lucky a second time.

An unforeseen result of Margot’s departure in the eighth: The Padres were forced to insert catcher A.J. Ellis in left field for the first time, as they had already cycled through their remaining options on the bench. Ellis, whose last tryout in the outfield came during a two-inning stint in Double-A back in 2007, didn’t get the chance to show off his defensive chops, however, as Wil Myers gloved the inning-ending out several minutes after Margot was removed from the game. The Padres dropped their series opener to the Phillies, 11-5.