Yadier Molina has a chance to join the 1,000-RBI club, and Albert Pujols will get another opportunity to honor Willie Mays when the visiting St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants continue their four-game series Friday night.
Molina hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot that produced his 999th career RBI, in a 7-1 Cardinals win in the series opener Thursday.
Pujols was given the night off but likely will get the call in a favorable matchup with Giants right-hander Alex Cobb as the clubs honor Mays, the Hall of Famer whom Pujols passed both in career home runs and hits over the past two seasons. Mays turns 91 on Friday.
The legends communicated via email after Pujols hit homer No. 661 in September of 2020.
“He sent me an email,” Pujols recalled of Mays, who was 89 at the time. “(It) said, ‘What took you so long?'”
The Giants are planning some rotation and roster shuffling in hopes of snapping a season-worst, four-game losing streak.
The Cardinals had expected to see Giants’ Opening Day starter Logan Webb in one of the first two games of the series, but San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler has elected to push his struggling right-hander back to Saturday.
The Giants turned the series opener into a bullpen game, with nine pitchers combining to give up 12 hits, and Friday are expected to start Cobb (1-1, 5.40 ERA) against Cardinals right-hander Jordan Hicks (1-2, 3.65).
As they await the season debuts of starting infielders Tommy La Stella (surgery on left Achilles) and Evan Longoria (surgery on right index finger), the Giants are expected to get LaMonte Wade Jr. into the lineup for the first time Friday.
Wade experienced soreness in his left knee during spring training and just this week was cleared to start an injury rehab at Triple-A Sacramento.
Kapler reported Thursday that Wade, one of the team’s top home run threats last season with 18 in just 109 games, passed the Sacramento test and has been green-lighted.
“He played back-to-back games, day game after a night game, just a little generally sore,” Kapler said of outings Tuesday and Wednesday. “We thought (Friday) was a better day for him (than Thursday).”
Cobb lasted just two-thirds of an inning Sunday at home against the Washington Nationals after missing a turn in the rotation due to a groin injury. He allowed five runs, only one of which was earned, in a game the Giants lost 11-5.
The 34-year-old has seen the Cardinals just once in his career, in a 2014 start for the Tampa Bay Rays in which he pitched seven shutout innings, allowing five hits.
He’s faced Pujols 15 times and allowed seven hits (.467 average), including a double and a home run.
The Cardinals have won four of five. Hicks started the first game of the run Sunday but was pulled after 3 1/3 innings, having allowed two runs and two hits against the Arizona Diamondbacks. St. Louis won the game 7-5.
The converted reliever is attempting to stretch out into a traditional starter’s role, and his 63 pitches against the Diamondback were a season high. It was his third consecutive start.
Hicks has never started against the Giants. In two previous relief appearances, he was roughed up for three runs and four hits in two innings.
–Field Level Media