Cardinals pregame notes: Allen Craig and Shane Robinson in lineup; ‘The Cardinal Way’; Michael Wacha’s frosty beverage
|10.23.13 at 7:39 pm ET|
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn’t have a whole lot of decisions to make concerning his World Series Game 1 lineup, and those questions that were present in effect answered themselves. St. Louis will feature Allen Craig, in his first game action since early September, at designated hitter and Shane Robinson, NLCS Game 6 hero, in center.
Craig, who has been fighting a foot injury for about a month and a half, is healthy enough to serve as St. Louis’ designated hitter while the Series is in Boston. Normally a first baseman, Craig hit .315 and drove in 97 runs in 134 regular-season games. He also hit a major league-best .454 with runners in scoring position.
“When we watched him hit live a couple of times and watched the bat speed … it became obvious he was going to be right back in the mix,” Matheny said.
As for Robinson, Matheny praised his defense while noting he deserved another start after a 2-for-4, two-RBI performance against the Dodgers Friday in what was his first start in 14 career playoff games. He is getting the nod over Jon Jay, who has hits in his last four games but is batting just .206 with zero extra-base hits and a .282 on-base percentage across 11 games this month.
“I made it clear [Tuesday] that I have a lot of faith in all our guys. We just try to make the best decision each individual day,” Matheny said. “And we know that [against] tough left-handers, you’re going to be scratching and clawing for runs. So we try to take every chance we can offensively when we can. … Whether it’s a straight platoon or not, I don’t know. We’ll see day to day as opportunities present themselves.”
Jay is a lifetime .269 hitters against lefties, while Robinson bats .233.
OTHER CARDINALS NOTES
– Much has been said about ‘The Cardinal Way’ in recent weeks, and Matheny — who Adam Wainwright said this week exemplifies the philosophy — noted that the way St. Louis conducts itself is not far off from the way the Red Sox do.
“It’s such a rich history,” Matheny said. “We hold ourselves to such a high level of expectation of how we play, not just wins and losses, but how you go about your business. And I think it’s been something that’s just been passed down.
“It was something when I came here as a player [in 2000] that was very clear, and it was obvious and something that I feel is a responsibility to continue.”
– Like just about everyone else recently, Matheny had high praise for Xander Bogaerts. The Cardinals boss compared the Red Sox rookie to many of his own young players in that they don’t melt under the spotlight.
“He’s done a nice job when given the opportunity,” Matheny said. “You can see there’s a lot of natural talent there, and yet we don’t have a lot of info on him. … We’ll make our adjustments on the fly.”
– Rookie right-hander Michael Wacha, slated to started Game 2 Thursday, is starting to get noticed in public after three playoff starts in which he has allowed one run and struck out 22 in 21 innings.
Wacha said after his most recent start, seven innings of shutout ball against the Dodgers to win the NLCS, he went out to eat in St. Louis and realized there was a milkshake named after him.
“That was pretty weird,” he said with a smile.
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