Molinas leave their mark in New York
Oldest brother latest sibling to put a damper on Big Apple
NEW YORK -- It's the time of the season when baseball connects to its past even more than usual and celebrates the new and old achievements. It's when you're apt to learn that last time a right-handed-hitting third baseman had three doubles in an LCS game or how long ago someone was picked off twice in a series. The game and those who chronicle it have high regard for historical minutia.
Sometimes we marvel at the parallels and links that develop, and for some reason, we cackle like kids when dates coincide.
So it was Tuesday night when one of the Molina boys brought the Yankees to their knees and tears to the eyes of their supporters. The time it was Bengie, the oldest and famously slowest of the three brothers who have caught on and on in the big leagues. He smoked a pitch from A.J. Burnett and turned a potential Yankees renaissance into an uncomfortable and unrewarding evening at the park for most of 49,000-and-change patrons.
Bengie, wanted by the Mets, signed by the Giants and acquired by the Rangers, now is lamented by the Yankees. All that has happened in less than a year.
And now the cackle: Four years earlier to the date, his brother Yadier undermined the Mets' plans to play in the World Series. It was October 19, 2006, when Yadier, the youngest of the brothers, pulled a pitch from Aaron Heilman beyond the left-field wall for two runs in the ninth inning, and after a longer-lamented, final-pitch strike, a 3-1 pennant-clinching victory by the Cardinals.
Bengie's swing in the sixth inning Tuesday was good for three runs. It changed a one-run Yankees lead to a two-run deficit and made the image of Cliff Lee's Monday night might a few lumens brighter and New York's outlook a few darker. Now, the margin for error for the defending World Series champions is so thin that it has no other side.
The Yankees' path to the Fall Classic now is obscured by history and may be obstructed by a pitcher who has beaten them three times in their last three October meetings. History tells us 3-1 deficits rarely are overcome in best-of-seven scenarios. Lee's presence and stunning October resume say it hardly is likely in the current circumstance.
Now, the Yankees and Mets can commiserate, at least until 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, when Game 5 is to begin. Each has a lamentable Molina moment in the postseason. Each has been Molina-ed. New York's teams can look to each other and say, "We know the feeling."
The Mets had scant chance to overcome their experience, merely one turn at-bat. The Yankees had four turns to offset Bengie's blast, but all they did was fall further behind. The 5-3 lead Molina created morphed into 10-3 rump-thumping. But the Yankees do have Games 5 and 6 to pull even before ... fill in your best/worst case scenario, depending on your team allegiance.
Bengie had placed detours in the Yankees' path previously -- he hit home runs against them in Games 1, 2 and 3 of the 2005 AL Division Series -- so the high fly he hit down the left-field line with two outs, following an intentional walk to David Murphy, hardly came out of left field.
"I've been blessed," Molina said. "I think God just gave me good games against them. I don't see it like, 'Here come the Yankees. I'm going to have a great game.' I don't see it that way. But it's not a bad [thing] for a fat kid that everyone makes fun of 'cause he can't run."
He readily recalled his little brother's home run against the Mets.
"Two minutes before it happened, I was actually yelling in my kitchen, 'Sit on the change, sit on the change, sit on the change. Please, just sit on the change.' And [Heilman] threw a changeup, and I was very happy. So I had a lot of fun that night, too."
Shortly after euthanasia ended this grotesque affair, Bengie knew his baby brother had witnessed and enjoyed his success.
"They're home and they have a great game room to watch the games, and I'm sure they are having fun," Bengie said.
And later he showed off the text message Yadier had sent. "I'm crying," said Bengie. "I'm crying. It was brutal. I'm crying it was so good."
And where was the middle man in all this? Middle brother Jose was the understudy to Jorge Posada in 2008 and '09. More importantly, he became the personal catcher for Burnett last year, an evolution that didn't delight the Yankees' core backstop.
"I know Jose knew A.J. well," Bengie said. "I don't know. Maybe he was in the kitchen saying, 'Be ready for the fastball, be ready for the fastball.' ... I was ready."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.