Yadier Molina appears poised to become only the second catcher in Cardinals history to hit 20 home runs in the regular season.
On July 17, 2012, Molina had 15 home runs, a career high. All were hit as a catcher.
(Updated Sept. 28: Molina has 22 homers, all as a catcher.)
The only Cardinal to hit 20 homers in the regular season as a catcher is Ted Simmons. He did it twice. Simmons hit 21 homers, all as a catcher, in 1977. Two years later, Simmons hit a career-high 26 homers, all as a catcher, despite being sidelined for four weeks because of a wrist fracture.
Simmons had three other seasons with 20 or more home runs for the Cardinals, but some were hit while playing positions other than catcher. He had 20 homers (17 as a catcher, three as a first baseman) in 1974; 22 homers (18 as a catcher, four as a left fielder) in 1978; and 21 homers (19 as a catcher, one as a left fielder and one as a pinch-hitter) in 1980.
(Joe Torre caught more games than Simmons for the 1970 Cardinals and hit 21 homers that season. But 11 were as a catcher and 10 were as a third baseman.)
Molina’s most memorable home run was hit in the postseason. His two-run shot on the first pitch he saw from the Mets’ Aaron Heilman in the top of the ninth inning in Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series lifted St. Louis to a 3-1 victory and into the World Series. Boxscore
“Change-up, middle in, I was looking for that,” Molina said to the New York Daily News. “He throws fastball and change-up and I expected the change and put a good swing on it.”
Molina hit his first big-league home run on Sept. 23, 2004, at Milwaukee. It was a historic blast. In the eighth inning, with two out and none on, Molina broke a 2-2 tie with a homer off a Matt Wise curveball, sparking the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory, their 100th of the season. It was the first time St. Louis achieved 100 wins in a season in 19 years. Boxscore
“A 100th win is a magic number,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said to the Associated Press. “It has significant meaning for a team. It’s a mark of excellence. You have to be really good to get that number. Ninety-nine was a great number. One-hundred has a different feel.”
On Aug. 16, 2007, again at Milwaukee, Molina hit two home runs in a game for the first time _ a solo shot in the second and a two-run shot in the fourth, both off Brewers starter David Bush, in an 8-0 Cardinals victory. The home runs were the first Molina had hit since April. Boxscore
One of Molina’s most dramatic regular-season home runs was his first big-league grand slam. It came off Reds reliever Nick Masset in the ninth inning on Opening Day, April 5, 2010, at Cincinnati, capping an 11-6 Cardinals victory. Boxscore
Molina became the third Cardinal to hit an Opening Day grand slam. The others were Mark McGwire and Scott Rolen. Molina credited teammate Albert Pujols with providing a tip about Masset.
“He told me to look for the ball up,” Molina told the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun. “And I was looking up, and he gave me that pitch … Everything was just right.”
Molina has hit more home runs against the Reds (11) and Brewers (10) than any other teams.