Power up: Cards get back-to-back jacks from Reynolds and Molina
ST. LOUIS -- The long wait for another Yadier Molina home run is finally over.
Just two pitches after an encouraging second home run in two games for Mark Reynolds, the Cardinals' catcher sent a pitch from starter Trevor May into the Twins' bullpen. St. Louis' first back-to-back blasts since September proved to be the difference as the Cardinals held off Minnesota 3-2 for their fourth straight win.
"I know that it's been an issue with everybody else more so than in our clubhouse," manager Mike Matheny said. "But sooner or later, that wears on you. Especially for a guy that's been able to hit 20 before. Everybody wants to talk about everything on the outside that might be influencing it."
Molina's homerless drought spanned 364 at-bats and 89 games, including the playoffs, dating back to a solo shot off Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu on June 27, 2014. Prior to Monday's game, Matheny said he doesn't worry about home run totals, but he acknowledged Molina probably cared more than anyone else in the clubhouse about the lack of power.
Still, he continues to contribute offensively, and he added two singles Monday for his third three-hit night of the season. Despite the lack of power, Molina's batting average of .287 would be his best in three seasons, and he also has 10 doubles.
Reynolds' average is up as well, even though he'd gone 66 at-bats and 19 games without a home run prior to a solo shot Saturday. After that game against the Royals, he said his home runs typically come in bunches, something the Cardinals are hoping will prove true.
"I like how he's swinging it," Matheny said. "He's aggressive in the zone. He's taking nice paths to the ball."
His five home runs provide a solid complement to a .260 average, which would be his best since 2009 with the Diamondbacks. Like Molina, Reynolds has 20 RBIs, even though he didn't become an everyday player until first baseman Matt Adams strained his quad in late May.
Hitting for average, not home runs, fits right in with the identity of a St. Louis lineup ranked seventh in Major League Baseball with a .263 average and 25th with 25 home runs through 63 games. Molina's greatest asset will continue to be his help in leading a dominant pitching staff that got another great performance from John Lackey, to improve to 42-21, six games ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central and 5 1/2 better than any team in baseball.
Rosenthal out with tightness
Matheny said closer Trevor Rosenthal should be back in action soon after tightness in his throwing arm made him unavailable both Sunday and Monday. Rain kept all the Cardinals off the mound for the finale of a weekend series with Kansas City, and Kevin Siegrist didn't allow a hit in the ninth for his second save of the season Monday night.
"If it's a day where their arm just didn't bounce back, which is the case with Trevor, if something doesn't feel as good as it normally does, we have to take a step back," Matheny said. "We can work them hard when they come back with the right answer and everything feels good, but when they're honest and they need those days, I need to respond and give it to them."