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.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.