September 24, 2020: Yadier Molina gets his 2,000th career hit

On September 24, 2020, Yadier Molina joined former teammate Albert Pujols and Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, and Enos Slaughter as the only Cardinals to reach 2,000 hits in their careers.

The milestone came during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, so Molina became the only Cardinal to collect his 2,000th career hit without fans in attendance. Instead, his teammates had to do their best to fill in for the fans, offering a standing ovation for their unofficial captain.

“You just got a chance to have a baseball moment,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “Probably one of the biggest games where we missed not having a crowd, because you know what the crowd would have been like this weekend, and missed having it for Yadi. So we gave him a standing ovation. It was just a fun moment. A moment to pause and honor a great accomplishment for a great player.”[1]

Molina entered the game with 1,998 career hits since making his major-league debut in 2004. Along the way he had won nine Gold Glove awards and four Platinum Gloves, been named to nine all-star games, won a Silver Slugger Award, and won two World Series championships.

Despite all he had accomplished, Molina had never participated in a season like 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cardinals’ season was postponed until July 24. Then, five games into the season, the virus swept through the roster, forcing the team to halt its schedule for more than two weeks as it went into quarantine. By the time the Cardinals returned to action on August 15, the rest of the league had marched on and St. Louis’s season schedule was uncertain. To catch up with the rest of the league, St. Louis squeezed 11 double-headers into what proved to be a 58-game schedule (most of the league played 60 games).

As the Cardinals prepared to host the Brewers for a season-ending five-game series in St. Louis, the team was 27-26 and, despite a loss to the Royals the previous night, tied with the Reds for second place in the National League Central. With an expanded playoff field for 2020, second place in the division would be enough to qualify for the postseason.

Molina came into the game batting .265/.305/.371 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 142 plate appearances. His 35 hits on the year placed him just two away from the 2,000-hit milestone, an accomplishment he was determined to reach before the season ended. Molina was in the final season of his contract, and at age 37, there was no guarantee that he and the Cardinals would agree to a new deal for 2021. With that in mind, was aware that he may be running out of time to collect his 2,000th hit in a St. Louis uniform.

“My mind is always about the team, about winning, but yeah, it was in my mind to get it this year, wearing this uniform, because you never know what’s going to happen next year,” Molina said.[2]

Molina’s longtime battery mate, Adam Wainwright, knew exactly what was about to happen, and voiced his prediction prior to the game that Molina would reach 2,000 in that night’s game.

“Most guys, when they have a huge milestone, they’ll come up on and go 0 for 8 or whatever and strike out a bunch of times and get nervous trying to get that hit,” he said. “When he came into the game two short, I said, ‘He’s going to get it today.’ There were two ways he was going to get that hit. He was either going to hit a home run, because he loves dramatics, or he was going to hit a liner over second – that patented Yadier single. The guy is unflappable. He doesn’t get nervous. He doesn’t crack.”[3]

The series opener pitted Brewers starter Corbin Burnes against the Cardinals’ Kwang Hyun Kim. Burnes had been dominant in the short season, winning all four of his decisions with a 1.77 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 56 innings. Kim, playing his first major-league season after 12 years in the Korean Baseball Organization, had also enjoyed a successful campaign, going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 34 innings.

Molina didn’t waste any time placing himself on the cusp of history, reaching first on a slow-rolling ground ball to lead off the second inning.

One inning later, the Cardinals scored the game’s first run. After Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman each punched ground balls through the infield, Paul Goldschmidt lined an RBI single into center field to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.

The Brewers answered with three singles of their own in the fourth, as Tyrone Taylor hit an RBI single that scored former Cardinals infielder Jedd Gyorko.

In the bottom half of the frame, rookie outfielder Dylan Carlson broke the 1-1 tie with a two-run homer down the right-field line. Two innings later, Dexter Fowler fought back from an 0-2 count to work a walk, and Carlson capitalized with an RBI double into the left-field gap.

As a result, the Cardinals held a 4-1 lead when Molina stepped to the plate in the seventh to face rookie Justin Topa, the Brewers’ fourth pitcher of the day. On a 2-2 count, Topa threw a fastball over the middle of the plate and Molina did what he’d done hundreds of times before: smacked it back up the middle for a single to center field.

As he ran to first, Molina pumped his fist. Safely at first, he gave the dugout a thumbs up, and received a standing ovation from his appreciative teammates.

“It’s special even to just be around someone like that every day,” Carlson said. “It’s incredible, and to see him accomplish the things he’s accomplished and to be a part of moments like this, it’s just really special.”[4]

“I’m really glad he got it here,” Wainwright said. “My only wish is that Yadi could have got that hit with 50,000 Cardinal fans screaming and going crazy.”[5]

With the hit, Molina became the 10th major leaguer to reach the milestone playing at least two-thirds of his games at catcher. Others included Hall of Famers Ivan Rodriguez, Ted Simmons, Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench. Another former catcher, his older brother Bengie Molina, was calling the game on the Cardinals’ Spanish-language broadcast.[6]

 “When I came up I was focused on my defense,” Molina said. “A lot of people in the media, they just give up on me and my offense. Obviously, I was a poor hitter, but I worked hard to prove them wrong. Right now, I’m in this moment and thank you to them for giving me the motivation. … It’s been many years. You want to get to this point. I’m finally here. I’ll enjoy it.”[7]

Before he could enjoy it, however, Molina and the Cardinals needed to hold onto their 4-1 lead. Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes combined for a scoreless eighth inning. Reyes allowed two hits and retired one batter in the ninth before Andrew Miller entered the game with runners on first and second. He allowed an RBI single to Eric Sogard before striking out Avisail Garcia and Christian Yelich to secure the 4-2 final score.

Kim, who allowed one earned run over five innings, was credited with the win. Burnes took the loss after leaving the game in the fourth inning with back tightness.

With the win, St. Louis took a half-game lead over the Reds for second place in the National League Central. The Cardinals finished with a 30-28 record to qualify for the wild-card series.

Two days after collecting his 2,000th hit, Molina added another to finish the season with 2,001. That offseason, he signed a one-year contract to return to St. Louis, and in August 2021 he signed another one-year contract for what he announced would be his final season.


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[1] Derrick Goold, “Molina Milestone In Win,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 25, 2020.

[2] Anne Rogers, “Y2K: Molina notches 2,000th hit,” MLB.com, September 25, 2020, www.mlb.com/news/yadier-molina-2-000th-career-hit.

[3] Rick Hummel, “Waino-Molina once more (at least),” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 26, 2020.

[4] Anne Rogers, “Y2K: Molina notches 2,000th hit,” MLB.com, September 25, 2020, www.mlb.com/news/yadier-molina-2-000th-career-hit.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Waino-Molina once more (at least),” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 26, 2020.

[6] Derrick Goold, “Molina Milestone In Win,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 25, 2020.

[7] Derrick Goold, “Molina Milestone In Win,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 25, 2020.

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