It’s a subtle change in how he plays the game behind the plate that has allowed Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina to remain in the game, game after game, this season.

Molina has missed only one game of the Cardinals’ 31 this season, and with two off days this week there isn’t an obvious break coming for him in the near future. The Gold Glove-winning catcher was hit by a pitch on his throwing hand during the sixth inning Sunday, and that bruise was able to do what manager Mike Matheny hasn’t done often – remove Molina from the game.

Matheny said he’s seen a change in approach by Molina that has increased his durability.

“He’s always tempered down his style of play the way he’s more efficient now behind the plate,” Matheny said. “The way he goes about it you can see that he’s still 100 percent. I see him grinding a little less but still grinding. I think he’s really realized how to keep the intensity but not kill himself every single game so that he has something left in the tank. That’s allowed him to be as consistently strong as he is right now.”

Molina said he did not expect the bruised hand to keep him out of Tuesday’s game, which would be his 31st start in 32 games.

In Molina’s sixth-inning at-bat, Alfredo Figaro hit Molina’s right hand with a pitch. The ball got him on the outside of the hand, just above the wrist, Molina said. He was not taken for X-rays and remained in the game to catch the next inning. In the eighth, backup catcher Tony Cruz pinch-hit for Molina and delivered an RBI single.

Last week, Molina was behind the plate when he took a pitch off his bare hand. There was some soreness, Matheny said, but not enough to keep him out of the next day’s lineup. Molina has missed one start this season, and that was a scheduled rest day. The spacing of off days and the recent string of night games allowed Matheny to keep playing Molina.

“And the weather has been perfect,” Molina said, “perfect for a catcher.”