ST. PETERSBURG -- The much-maligned Rays catching tandem of Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton has had a good week, highlighted by Molina's pickoff of Minnesota baserunner Aaron Hicks on Monday night.
That pickoff was the first by a Ray since Kelly Shoppach on April 19, 2011, against the White Sox. Molina also threw out threw out two would-be basestealers on Sunday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon has basically shrugged all season when asked about the low percentage of basestealers that have been thrown out this season. He noted that the recent improvement is easily explained.
"Primarily because pitchers are doing a better job of holding runners on," Maddon said. "If you want to have a catcher look good, you have to do a better job among the pitching staff. Whether it's a move to first, quicker times to the plate. ... That's the key reason you throw out runners.
"Catchers get really blown up sometimes -- now, there are catchers who are really slow and not accurate, but Ja-Mo is, and so is [Lobaton]. So if we give them a shot, we're going to throw the runners out."
Lobaton allowed that it can be frustrating to not have a fair chance to throw out the baserunner, but he quickly stuck up for the pitchers he works with.
"I don't want to put the pitcher in a bad situation," Lobaton said. "I know they can do better. Same thing with me when I don't block a ball, they're thinking, 'He can do better.' It's something we have to work on together. And try to throw those guys out. Those runs are important for the team and the pitchers. I know they understand that."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.