Here are the lineups for Game 7 of the Rangers-Cardinals series tonight:
TEXAS RANGERS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B 1. Ryan Theriot, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS 2. Allen Craig, LF
3. Josh Hamilton, CF 3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Michael Young, 1B 4. Lance Berkman, RF
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B 5. David Freese, 3B
6. Nelson Cruz, RF 6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Mike Napoli, C 7. Rafael Furcal, SS
8. David Murphy, LF 8. Skip Schumaker, CF
SP Matt Harrison, LHP SP Chris Carpenter, RHP
Nelson Cruz (groin) and Mike Napoli (ankle) are both playing tonight despite getting hurt in Game 6, so Ron Washington is able to go with his standard lineup versus a right-hander pitcher. That means David Murphy in left field and Craig Gentry on the bench, so with a banged-up Hamilton in center field and a banged-up Cruz in right field the Cardinals may be shooting some gaps with fly balls.
Tony La Russa, on the other hand, is shaking things up considerably. For the first time all postseason Rafael Furcal is not in the leadoff spot, as La Russa has dropped the struggling shortstop to seventh. Replacing him atop the lineup is Ryan Theriot, who starts over Nick Punto at second base. Skip Schumaker is making his second straight start in center fielder over Jon Jay. And with Matt Holliday removed from the roster due last night’s wrist injury Allen Craig is starting in left field. Holliday would have hit cleanup, but instead Craig is in his usual No. 2 spot with Lance Berkman cleaning up.
Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.
After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.
That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0 …
That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.
In the first postseason meeting between the two longtime archrivals, the Chicago Cubs prevailed over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Watch as Cubs closer Hector Rondon whiffs Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a nasty 0-2 breaking ball to clinch a Division Series victory and send Wrigley Field into a frenzy (this is actually the first time in franchise history the Cubs have won a playoff series at home) …
Chicago dropped Game 1 but took three straight to finish off St. Louis. Next up is a matchup against either the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.
After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.
Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.
October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.
It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.
Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.