Rangers’ Molina: An ace catcher

Posted: October 14, 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas - Texas Rangers catcher Bengie Molina has caught his share of aces, including the two pitchers who will open the National League Championship Series on Saturday - the Phillies' Roy Halladay and the Giants' Tim Lincecum.

Molina spent the 2006 season in Toronto, where he caught Halladay. He played for San Francisco from 2007 until being acquired by Texas on July 1.

"This is what it is all about, to see those two guys battle it out," Molina said before Thursday's workout in preparation for Friday's opening American League Championship Series game with the New York Yankees at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Molina says he will be rooting for the Giants.

"Obviously, I want them to win because I have great friends there," he said. "We were like family."

Molina said Rangers lefthander and former Phillie Cliff Lee can match anybody in the control department.

"Lee is a lot of fun to catch," Molina said. "As a catcher, you can't ask for anything else than a guy like that who pounds the zone and controls the ball so much."

Opening starters. CC Sabathia will oppose C.J. Wilson in Friday's opener. Wilson, a converted reliever, went 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA in the regular season and won his first postseason start in the division series against Tampa Bay.

Sabathia was 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA and won his lone start in the ALDS sweep of the Minnesota Twins.

Wilson outdueled Sabathia at the podium when both pitchers met the press on Thursday.

When the lefthander was asked about the influence of Lee, he quipped, "Well, actually before he was here, I was actually a righthanded second baseman."

A flip-flop. In the Yankees' sweep of the Twins, manager Joe Girardi used lefthander Andy Pettitte in Game 2 and righthander Phil Hughes in Game 3.

Against Texas, Girardi will pitch Hughes in Game 2 in Texas and Pettitte in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

"He has pitched very well on the road this year," Girardi said of Hughes. "You look at our ballpark, sometimes it's a little bit more favorable to a lefthanded pitcher than righthanded pitchers, and those are some of the things that we looked at."

Hughes was the winning pitcher in the Yankees' clinching 6-1 victory over Minnesota at Yankee Stadium.

If the series goes seven games, Pettitte would pitch the decisive game.

"That's one of the things you look at, too," Girardi said.

Pettitte is 19-9 in the postseason, with the highest win total in major-league history.

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