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Monday, November 8, 2010
Dazzling Dozen: A cycle for a catcher

By Richard Durrett

Bengie Molina
Bengie Molina's cycle in Boston included a fifth-inning grand slam that turned the game in the Rangers' favor.

We've now reached the top 10 of our series on the 12 most memorable moments of the 2010 Rangers season. We'll continue to run one moment per day until we reach No. 1.

No. 10: Bengie Molina's cycle

The Rangers didn't trade for catcher Bengie Molina because of his speed. They wanted a veteran catcher with a history of postseason success who could handle a young pitching staff and provide stability behind the plate. He did all of those things, of course.

But Molina, who called himself "probably the slowest guy in the world," added an achievement that few could have predicted when he hit for the cycle. Molina legged out a triple in the eighth inning on July 16 in Fenway Park in Boston to do it, receiving plenty of antler signs from the Rangers dugout.

Bengie Molina
Despite nursing a tweaked right quadriceps, Bengie Molina completed his cycle by legging out a triple in the eighth at Fenway.
Molina, acquired in June from San Francisco, hit a ball to the deepest part of Fenway Park in the eighth inning and center fielder Eric Patterson had trouble getting to it. Despite a tweaked right quadriceps, Molina just kept running and ended up with an unlikely triple and the cycle.

Molina had an incredible game. And without some clutch hits during his cycle, the Rangers probably would not have beaten the Red Sox that night. He hit a hard single to center in the second and doubled to right field in the fourth.

But it was his at-bat in the fifth that provided the key to breaking open the game. Texas trailed 3-2 when the inning began. Boston, though, gave the Rangers an extra out thanks to a two-out error (a bad throw that allowed runners at first and second to advance). Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked to load the bases for David Murphy, who also walked to drive in the tying run. That's when Molina stepped to the plate. He hit a 1-2 pitch into the center field seats for a grand slam, turning the game completely in the Rangers' favor.

This made my dozen because:

* The Boston series showed the Rangers had completely forgotten how the first half of the season ended. They were swept by the Orioles at home right before the All-Star break and the question was whether it would linger. It didn't.

* Molina was traded at the end of June while the club was in Anaheim and the adjustment took time. He was 4-for-23 in his first seven games and the club was 1-6. But things turned around in Boston. Molina had a homer in the first game of the series and then had his cycle in the second game.

* The pictures on TV that night were priceless. It was a giddy group of guys watching Molina hit that triple. They knew what a big deal it was for him. For Molina, it was also about feeling like he'd really done something to help his new club.

* It was the highlight of Molina's regular season, but he went on to become a critical postseason performer for Texas. He hit .293 with two homers and 8 RBIs in 41 postseason at-bats. Both of his homers were clutch. His biggest coming against the Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS to help Texas take control of that game and the series.

* If Molina does in fact retire, the cycle will be one of his lasting memories along with the Gold Gloves and his World Series ring from the Angels in 2002 (actually, he'll get a ring from the Giants this year, too).