Fortunately for the Angels, he was in the lineup Sunday.
Molina had three hits including a bases-clearing double, and made a big defensive play in the ninth inning as the Angels held off the Kansas City Royals 7-6 to complete a three-game series sweep.
“You want to be a little bit more aggressive when runners are in scoring position,” Molina said of his fifth-inning double off the right-center field fence. “I got a fastball and it found the gap.”
Molina’s hit off Runelvys Hernandez (2-7) gave the Angels a 7-2 lead. They didn’t have another baserunner after that, but had already scored enough runs to win.
“Fortunately, we held on,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “You would like to have it cleaner, but we got it done.”
Molina, who turns 30 next week, went 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to .260 in 73 at-bats with 10 RBIs. He backs up his older brother, Bengie.
The win was the fourth straight for the Angels, who are a season-best 10 games over .500 and a half-game ahead of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. The Angels scored 30 runs in sweeping the Royals after totaling only 31 in their previous nine games.
Bartolo Colon (6-3) won despite allowing a season-high 12 hits and four runs in 7 2-3 innings. He walked none and struck out six. Hernandez gave up 10 hits and seven runs in five innings while walking three and striking out six.
Kansas City’s Mark Teahen hit a two-out, two-run single off Brendan Donnelly in the eighth, and Tony Graffanino did the same thing off Scot Shields in the ninth before Shields threw a called third strike past Ruben Gotay for his seventh save in eight chances.
Graffanino had a career-high five hits and three RBIs, but preferred to speak on another subject.
“My day started going to chapel, and I listened to a guy deliver a message where he’s got a couple of weeks to live because he’s dying of cancer, and everything just got put into perspective—which is needed every now and again,” Graffanino said. “I want to honor him. I think he’s just a tremendous man, coming out here and still doing chapels when he’s only got so many weeks left. So whatever I did today, I want all the focus to go on him.”
The Royals have lost six straight and eight of nine. At 13-37, they have the worst record in the majors and their poorest in franchise history through 50 games. Kansas City has been swept seven times in series of at least three games this season, and hasn’t swept the opposition in 78 straight series.
The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Graffanino. Teahen hit Colon’s first pitch of the fifth into the lower left field seats for his second homer. Donnelly relieved Colon with runners at second and third and two outs in the eighth and gave up the two-run single to Teahen.
The Royals loaded the bases with one out in the ninth. Matt Diaz then hit a broken-bat grounder to Shields, whose throw home was in the dirt. But Molina dug it out for the force play before just throwing to first, where Diaz barely beat the throw.
“I didn’t have a good grip on it. I tried to push it and made a bad throw,” Shields said. “That’s on me.”
Graffanino followed with his fifth hit before Shields struck out Gotay.
Molina said the Angels prepare for bad throws like the one Shields made starting in spring training.
Emil Brown had three hits, and Teahen added two for the Royals. Teahen entered the game in a 3-for-29 slump.
Finley has driven in three runs in each of the last two games to give him 29 RBIs this season. Seventeen of his 34 hits are for extra bases. … The Royals have lost nine straight road games—their longest such losing streak since they dropped 10 straight on the road during the 2002 season. … Los Angeles’ Chone Figgins went hitless in three at-bats with a walk to end his 11-game hitting streak, the longest by an Angels player this season. … The Royals are 5-3 on Sundays. … Scioscia said OF Vladimir Guerrero, on the 15-day disabled list because of a partially dislocated left shoulder, probably won’t be activated when eligible next Sunday. He was injured while sliding headfirst into home plate May 20. … Royals OF Terrence Long was removed from the game in the sixth inning because of tightness behind his left knee. … The Angels open a 12-game road trip Monday in Chicago. They also face Boston, Atlanta and the New York Mets. Those four teams have a combined record of 61-28 in home games this season.