It was pretty much a given that Scott Rolen would get Thursday off after playing all 19 innings in the Reds’ loss to the Phillies on Wednesday, so it was no surprise to see Miguel Cairo in the lineup for the series finale. What did turn some heads was that the 37-year-old Cairo not only filled in for Rolen defensively, but he took his spot in the batting order and hit cleanup for just the second time in his career.
And it turned out OK.
Cairo, who had started just one game in two weeks, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in the 10-4 loss to the Phillies. He had as many extra-base hits today as he did in his previous 70 at-bats this season.
Cairo’s other appearance in the cleanup spot came eight years ago for the Cardinals in a 2-1 loss to the Astros. Coincidently, he hit one spot ahead of Rolen in that game. With Albert Pujols out due to a sore hamstring and Jim Edmonds nursing a calf injury, manager Tony La Russa opted to bat Orlando Palmeiro third and Cairo fourth.
Of course, Cairo didn’t quite measure up to his counterpart, Lance Berkman, in that one. Nor could he have been expected to match bombs with Ryan Howard today. Cairo has averaged a homer every 110 at-bats during his career, and his career high for homers is six, established with the Yankees in 2004. Howard homers once every 13 at-bats.
The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.
The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.
Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.
The matchups for Tuesday’s action:
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.
Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.
The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.