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.
If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.
It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:
Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.
The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this:
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.