Here's an update at 4:40 p.m. STL time ...
Allen Craig didn't appear to be moving very well last night in Game 4. He had to settle for a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning last night on a line drive-hit that certainly would have gone for a double if Craig wasn't limited by an injured left foot. He was obviously uncomfortable in covering the distance between the batter's box and home plate.
Until aggravating the foot injury on the final, winning run of Game 3, Craig was making good progress and was tracking toward a start at first base. But Craig experienced a setback on the decisive play. After a wild throw wide of third base, Craig was tripped by Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks and struggled to run home.
But Craig is in the Game 5 lineup this evening against Boston LH Jon Lester. The Cards' lineup hasn't officially been released at the time I'm typing this, but Craig will likely hit 6th.
Craig's willingness to give it a go should give the Cardinals a better shot to do some damage against Lester.
Craig dropped hints when speaking with reporters after Game 4, Craig didn't rule out being able to play first base. He repeatedly left open the possibility. At the time, it may have seemed like an example of wishful thinking.
But the Cardinals are understandably viewing Game 5 with great urgency. If they win the Cardinals would have a 3-2 World Series lead as they return to Boston for the final game or two.
“We're going to do everything that we can, and we just have to see how I feel,” Craig said after Game 4. “It's one of those things we've got to figure out what's best for the team, and I guarantee 100 percent that decision will be made. We've just got to see tomorrow.”
The obvious question: Can Craig move well enough to play first?
“We're going to see tomorrow,” he said. “That's how it's always been. I've said it a million times. I've just got to show up tomorrow and see how it feels and go from there. I can't say anything at this point. I don't know how I'll feel tomorrow. I'm going to do what I normally do to get ready."
(This may be the only time Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz, a designated hitter by trade, will have the defensive edge at first base going into a game.)
Craig will have to go station to station in running the bases. He obviously won't be legging out infield hits and doubles or advancing two bases on single, or scoring from first on a double.
If Craig hits a hard line drive to right field (or even right-center) for what would be a single, the Red Sox may have a chance to throw him out at first. Then again, Boston's outfielders have to play rather deep to respect Craig's power, so ...
The Red Sox could exploit Craig's immobile state by bunting at him. His range will be limited on ground balls hit to his right.
There is a trade-off, however.
And it's one worth making.
Craig's righthanded swing is a positive addition in the matchup against Lester.
Craig slugged .465 against LH pitching this season.
For his career, Craig has batted .302 with a .336 onbase percentage and .549 slugging percentage against lefties.
Matt Adams has been playing full-time at first base since Craig suffered the fluke injury at Cincinnati on Sept. 4. But Adams has been ineffective against lefthanded pitching. Including the postseason, Adams is 16 for 73 (.219) against lefties this season, with a .230 onbase percentage and .384 slugging pct.
Righthanded hitters didn't exactly beat Lester up this season, but they've done better (.712 OPS) against him than lefthanded hitters (.670 OPS.)
Earlier, I wrote that I'd be surprised to see Craig at first base. But this looms as a crucial game for the Cardinals, who don't want to be in the tough spot of having to win two games in Boston. Accordingly, Craig asked manager Mike Matheny to put him in the lineup.
Thanks for reading ...