NEW YORK -- The move by Yankees manager Joe Girardi made baseball sense. Or at least that’s what Bengie Molina believes.
That’s not the case for New York baseball fans with long memories.
Why would you want to walk a guy to face a Molina in a postseason game in this town?
Bengie Molina made the Yankees pay with a three-run bomb down the left-field line in the Bronx, giving the Rangers the lead for good in the sixth inning of a 10-3 win in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. It happened to come exactly four years after younger brother Yadier Molina hit a two-run shot in the ninth inning of a Game 7 at Shea Stadium to send the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series.
But forget the homer history of the Molina family tree. Bengie Molina’s past as a Yankees killer in the postseason should have given Girardi pause. He’s a guy who homered three times in the Angels’ 2005 ALDS win over the Yankees. And he had an RBI in each of the previous two games.
“It’s the game,” said Molina, who hit only .240 with two homers in 57 games after being traded from San Francisco to Texas this season. “Murphy’s a great hitter and he kills right-handers. Why not walk him and face me? I haven’t been having a great season.
“I don’t think it’s a bad move. I think it’s the right move that went wrong.”
It’s a move that the Yankees probably won’t be able to recover from.
Molina pounced on the first pitch he saw, sending a 92 mph fastball well over the left-field wall. He pointed toward his family in the stands as he rounded third base and pounded his chest as he approached the dugout.
His teammates fed on Molina’s emotion. The foundation for a Rangers rout had been laid.
“That was the big blow that we had been looking for,” Michael Young said.
Josh Hamilton homered twice as the Rangers trotted up the score in the late innings. Nelson Cruz busted out the boomstick for a second-deck shot in the ninth. But Molina’s blast was the most important moment of the game -- and could be considered the biggest hit in Rangers postseason history.
“It was a huge lift,” said Hamilton, who has homered four times this series. “To be honest with you, the playoffs are stressful. You’re on an emotional roller coaster. When they walked Murphy to get to him, there’s nobody we’d rather have up there than Bengie. He gets it done in the postseason, and he has in a long time. He came through, and just to see him fired up the way he was when he got back to the dugout, it got everyone else going.”
Girardi played the percentages. Molina made the Yankees pay yet again.