MRI taken Saturday night on Yadier Molina’s right knee showed no structural damage

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Cardinals manager Mike Matheny sent a wave of fright through the Midwest on Saturday when he announced in his postgame press conference that Yadier Molina was on his way to the hospital to have his right knee examined by team doctors.

But the Cardinals and their fans can breathe again.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, an MRI taken late Saturday on the knee showed no serious structural damage. Molina was diagnosed with mild inflammation which should dissipate over time with treatment and random days of rest.

Tony Cruz is starting behind the plate for a second straight game on Sunday. Molina thinks he will be able to return for Tuesday’s series-opener against the Astros following Monday’s scheduled team off day.

Yadi — widely considered the best defensive catcher in baseball — is batting .346/.388/.490 with six home runs and 45 RBI in 81 games this season. Despite the lacking power numbers, he is a legitimate MVP candidate and wound up as the leading vote-getter in the National League for the 2013 All-Star Game.

St. Louis enters play Sunday with a one-game deficit behind the Pirates in the National League Central.

Justin Verlander earns 200th career win

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Astros starter Justin Verlander wasn’t his usual dominant self on Sunday against the Athletics, but he was good enough to get the win. In doing so, he earned the 200th win of his career, becoming the 117th member of the 200-win club.

Verlander went 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts. On the season, Verlander is now 12-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 223/29 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings. Sunday’s win helped the Astros stave off the surging A’s. The Astros now have a one-game lead in the AL West.

Only two active pitchers have more wins than Verlander: Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (244). Zack Greinke will likely be the next member of the 200-win club as he currently has 184 to his name.