For the first six innings of Friday's opening game of the National League division series, Clayton Kershaw never pitched from the stretch. And he dominated the St. Louis Cardinals, striking out eight batters and giving up just two hits, both solo home runs.
Then Matt Holliday opened the seventh with a single and everything changed. After Kershaw ditched his windup, the Cardinals pounded him for six hits in the span of eight batters, the final one a three-run double by Matt Carpenter that turned what was left of a once-comfortable Dodgers lead into a one-run deficit in a game the Cardinals went on to win, 10-9.
So what changed? Some suspected the Cardinals may have been stealing signs when they got runners on base. Or perhaps Kershaw was tipping his pitches from the stretch.
The Cardinals angrily denied both those theories.
"C'mon!" Holliday said. "I've been playing 11 years and I'm stealing signs?"
Molina said talk of sign-stealing and tipped pitches stole credit from the people who deserved it: the Cardinals hitters.
"We had a bunch of good at-bats against him," said Molina, who singled and scored against Kershaw during the eight-run rally. "He started leaving the ball in the middle, up. And we [had] some good at-bats. We put the ball in play."
Holliday agreed it came down to the Cardinals' talent and not acts of skulduggery.