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Cardinals' Matz leaves game in first with shoulder stiffness; Liberatore sent out but perhaps not for long

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PITTSBURGH — It’s one and out for left-handed rookie Matthew Liberatore after the 22-year-old made his big-league debut for the Cardinals Saturday night, allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Liberatore was optioned back to Class AAA Memphis Sunday morning, with right-hander Angel Rondon, who had been traveling on the taxi squad, added to the roster. Manager Oliver Marmol said that the Cardinals needed some “length” in their bullpen after Drew VerHagen had thrown 2 1/3 innings in relief of Liberatore to gain credit for the Cardinals’ 5-4 victory. 

But Liberatore might not be gone long. Left-hander Steven Matz, who started Sunday's game here against Pittsburgh, came out of the game after four pitches (two balls, two strikes) with left shoulder stiffness and, in theory, could be headed to the injured list. Matz will be re-evaluated when the club returns home after the game.

Matz had spent time on the New York Mets'  disabled list in 2016 and in 2020 with left shoulder discomfort. Rondon was called on immediately to replace Matz in the game.   

Rondon, 24, was 2-0 with a 3.97 earned run average in 11 games (two starts) at Memphis. He was the club’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2019.

Dylan Carlson, who left the game with a tight left hamstring on Saturday night, is out of the lineup for the 10:35 a.m. (St. Louis time) start for the Peacock streaming service Game of the Week. The severity is not known although Marmol said he was hopeful that Carlson was removed in time Saturday before the injury cratered.

Sunday’s starting time is believed to the Cardinals’ first morning start since July 4, 1984, in San Francisco when current Cardinals broadcaster Rick Horton pitched and won the first game of a doubleheader at Candlestick Park when manager Whitey Herzog determined that Horton, who took care of himself on and off the field, might be the “only one awake” to make that start.

Sunday’s lineup also is unusual. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt, though he has had eight hits in his past three games, including four on Saturday, is out of the lineup entirely and third baseman Nolan Arenado is off the field, serving as the designated hitter.

Marmol said that these decisions had been reached several days ago although he admitted it was hard to take Goldschmidt out of the lineup entirely.

“We’re planning in advance when some of these guys are getting off,” Marmol said. “Stay on track. Keep them fresh.

“It’s tough to have both of those guys be off (on defense) on the same day but ... keep them fresh before their bodies are absolutely screaming for it.”

The Cardinals’ lineup has Edmundo Sosa at third base and Brendan Donovan in right field. It is a lineup that probably will never appear on the field again for the Cardinals.

“You’re probably right,” Marmol said.

Cardinals lineup

1. Tommy Edman ss

2. Nolan Gorman 2b

3. Nolan Arenado 3b

4. Juan Yepez 1b

5. Brendan Donovan rf

6. Edmundo Sosa 3b

7. Corey Dickerson lf

8. Andrew Knizner c

9. Harrison Bader cf

LH Steven Matz p

Pittsburgh lineup 

1. Ke'Bryan Hayes 3b

2. Bryan Reynolds cf

3. Michael Chavis 1b

4. Ben Gamel lf

5. Diego Castillo rf

6. Yoshi Tsutsugo dh

7. Rodolfo Castro ss

8. Josh VanMeter 2b

9. Tyler Heineman c

RH Bryse Wilson p 

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