PITTSBURGH — Given his proclivity to playing almost every day — he didn't miss a game during the Cardinals' abbreviated 2020 season — the Cardinals opted to schedule a break for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in the midst of this 17-game, 17-day blitz at the end of the season's first month.
They knew coming to Pittsburgh that this would be the day.
The only question was how much of the lineup would change without him in it.
Answer: Only the spot he left.
In a straight up swap of players, Matt Carpenter will start at first and bat third and sub in Sunday for Goldschmidt. Manager Mike Shildt explained during a morning Zoom call with St. Louis media that it allowed other hitters to stay in places where they've recently thrived, and that he liked how Carpenter added a lefthanded element to the lineup to go with recent pop. Carpenter hit pinch-hit home runs in back-to-back games this week, and suddenly with six RBIs from those two swings he's one of seven Cardinals with at least 10 RBIs.
He also raised his batting average from .073 to .114.
The Cardinals did not make a roster move for Jordan Hicks before Sunday's game. As they try to sweep the Pirates, they will be without him and likely Genesis Cabrera, who has pitched on consecutive days and in three out of the past four games. Hicks will have imaging scans and a meeting with team doctors Monday in St. Louis. He and Daniel Ponce de Leon are both scheduled to meet with physicians to determine the extent of their soreness and treatment plans.
There are several reasons the Cardinals did not make a roster move. First, they've exhausted the pitching surplus from their taxi squad already on this trip and don't have a pitcher at the ready and on the road with them. Second, they need to make a roster move Monday as Adam Wainwright rejoins the team and makes a start against the Mets. Third, they don't want to prematurely put Hicks on the 10-day injured list, Shildt said.
He said if they need to take "a pause" with him, they will. That decision will be made Monday, and it could correspond with the Wainwright move.
Here's the Cardinals' lineup for the series finale at PNC Park:
1. Tommy Edman, 2B
2. Dylan Carlson, RF
3. Matt Carpenter, 1B
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
5. Paul DeJong, SS
6. Tyler O'Neill, LF
7. Andrew Knizner, C
8. Harrison Bader, CF
9. Carlos Martinez, P