SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cardinals' bench may not be all that deep, but manager Mike Matheny has one very nice weapon at his disposal, ready to be deployed at the right time. Infielder/outfielder Matt Carpenter was once again not in the lineup Monday night for Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, despite an impressive record against Giants starter Matt Cain.
That's because, in short, there's no obvious candidate for Carpenter to displace. The left-handed-hitting youngster is an impressive young bat. But the Cardinals have star-level hitters at all four corner positions, so Carpenter's 5-for-6 mark against Cain isn't good enough to get him in the starting nine.
"We've done this all season," Matheny said. "He's been a great fill for whatever we need. But you started looking at him playing in the outfield in the corners, and you've got Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran, and Allen Craig and David Freese on the corners in the infield. Those are guys that have all been valuable parts of our lineup. We don't deny what Matt's been able to do against Cain, but if anything does happen with any of our guys along the way, we've got a good option."
Carpenter came off the bench in Game 3 of the NLCS after Beltran injured his left knee. He hit a home run in the Cardinals' 3-1 win in that game and started again in Game 4, but he returned to the bench for Game 5, when Beltran came back to the lineup. He started Game 6 in Holliday's absence when the left fielder suffered back spasms.
Matheny not tinkering with scuffling lineup
SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite a couple of quiet days for the Cardinals' offense, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny felt no need to shake up his starting lineup for Game 7 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park on Monday.
A couple of the Cards' most essential hitters, notably Allen Craig and Jon Jay, have scuffled during the NLCS. Craig was 3-for-20 in the series entering Monday, while Jay was 5-for-25.
In the past, Matheny has sometimes flipped cleanup man Craig and No. 2 hitter Carlos Beltran when one or the other has slumped. But he said he had little interest in making that move. Nor did he see a better alternative in the leadoff spot than Jay.
"I think about 20 different lineups every night," Matheny said. "But I keep coming back to what's been working for us. And there's a reason. And there was a reason that we were able to make the push that we did, and it was people really finding their spot. It took us a lot longer than it took quite a few other teams to really find that formula in our lineup.
"It's just a matter of looking over the big picture and seeing what gives us the best chance. Today is not the time to start rewriting anything."
Wainwright, Lynn available for Game 7 relief
SAN FRANCISCO -- There may be a game for the Cardinals in two days, but they'll deal with that when the time comes. For now, they're playing a Game 7, and that means everyone who might conceivably be available to pitch, is available to pitch.
Specifically, starters Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, who pitched Games 4 and 5 of the National League Championship Series, respectively, were considered available out of the bullpen for the final game of the NLCS.
"The two of them would definitely be ready to go," said manager Mike Matheny. "It's all hands on deck right now."
It's likely that one of those two would start Game 1 of the World Series if the Cardinals were to advance.
Cardinals right-hander Jake Westbrook threw a 40-pitch bullpen session on Monday as he continues his recovery from a strained oblique muscle. The club believes Westbrook is healthy enough to be considered for inclusion on a potential World Series roster.
Beltran's double on Sunday night was the 24th extra-base hit of his postseason career, in 120 at-bats.
When Marc Rzepczynski was charged with a run on Sunday night, it ended a streak of eight consecutive postseason appearances without his being scored upon. Rzepczynski has been charged with a run in two of his past 16 postseason games pitched.
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.