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Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina has big day throwing out Tampa Bay Rays basestealers

ST. PETERSBURG — LHP David Price may have thrown a complete-game shutout Sunday, but it was C Jose Molina's arm that stole the show early on.

Molina, 34, set a Blue Jays record by throwing out all four Rays attempted basestealers Sunday afternoon, all in the first four innings, including four-time AL stolen base champion LF Carl Crawford twice. It was also the first time the Rays have been caught four times in one game.

"After the second inning, I came in and jokingly said, 'I'll just walk them and you throw them all out,' " said Jays RHP Brandon Morrow, who had six walks. "And then it happened twice more."

Molina became the first catcher to throw out four since the Marlins' Charles Johnson on Sept. 18, 2002, and the first AL catcher to do so since the A's Terry Steinbach on July 31, 1992. The modern major-league record (since 1900) is six, done twice (Wally Schang, Philadelphia A's, May 12, 1915; Bill Bergen, Brooklyn Dodgers, Aug. 23, 1909).

Molina, an 11-year-veteran, credited Morrow for holding the runners: "He's the one who did everything." But the Rays, who lead the majors with 21 steals, saw it differently.

"He got us today," manager Joe Maddon said. "His accuracy was ridiculous. He was quick and on the money."

For Crawford, it was the third time in his career he has been caught twice in one game — Sept. 16, 2009 at Baltimore (C Matt Wieters) and April 10, 2007 in Texas (C Gerald Laird). 2B Sean Rodriguez and CF B.J. Upton were also thrown out.

Molina "was on today," Crawford said. "He made some perfect throws. I don't think he could have made better throws."

That didn't stop Crawford from trying to steal again in the eighth; he advanced to second anyway on the pitch due to Ben Zobrist's walk. "I loved him for (trying)," Maddon said.

The Rays likely also love the fact Molina is heading out of town. He has caught six straight attempted basestealers his past two games and seven of eight (87.5 percent) this season.

"He's been one of the best catchers in the game for a long time, so hats off to him," Upton said. "We got a speedy team, and we thrive off stealing bases. But he pretty much put a stop to that today."

INJURY UPDATE: C Dioner Navarro said his right leg is feeling better but he still has some soreness in the area right of his shin. The injury, which surfaced during batting practice Saturday, forced him out of the lineup that night. But it doesn't appear to be serious as Navarro was catching in the bullpen during Sunday's game and said he took some swings off a tee, hoping he could be ready for Tuesday's game.

SHOP TALK: C Kelly Shoppach, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee last week, was off crutches and rode a stationary bike Sunday, starting a rehab process that Maddon said could last six weeks. "That would be the most aggressive and optimistic number," Maddon said.

Shoppach said he considered playing through the injury, but he realized this was the smart route. He was hurt in the April 10 game against the Yankees.

"I think my mentality is to just fight through whatever I've got," he said. "So it's going to be a challenge for me to be mature enough to stay patient."

MISCELLANY: LHP J.P. Howell (left shoulder weakness) will throw off a mound Wednesday but from a shorter distance than a regular bullpen session. … SS Jason Bartlett was originally given the day off but entered as a pinch-runner in the seventh and hit a two-run double in the eighth. … 3B Evan Longoria went 6-for-11 in the series with three multihit games.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina has big day throwing out Tampa Bay Rays basestealers 04/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 26, 2010 7:11am]
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