WS2013 Gm5: Carpenter on Craig playing through injury

ST. LOUIS -- Minutes after telling local reporters that "it would have been a pretty far stretch" to put Allen Craig in the field for Game 5 on Monday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny watched as Craig came out for batting and fielding practice to make his case. Craig would end up successful in that attempt.

Craig lobbied for inclusion in the lineup and then proved to the Cardinals that he had adequate mobility in the field. It was enough for St. Louis to make a late lineup change and replace Matt Adams with Craig in the sixth spot of the batting order.

"He pushed and wanted to," Matheny said. "We took him out and he responded well. He said, 'I want to do what I can to help this team. I think I can do this. I'm going to go out.' And we let him go. He felt pretty good."

Craig took a series of ground balls at first base and simulated moving to the bag to cover on a throw. It was the first time Craig had done any work in the field since his adventurous trip around the bases in Game 3. Before that, he had worked defensively just twice since suffering a Lisfranc foot injury on Sept. 4.

Before Craig re-aggravated his foot while running the bases on Saturday, the Cards had been eyeing the possibility that the first baseman would be ready to return for this game. With left-hander Jon Lester starting for the Red Sox, the much-preferred matchup was to have the right-handed-hitting Craig in the lineup over the left-handed Adams.

But the first lineup the Cardinals posted on Monday did not have Craig in it. Matheny was initially concerned that Craig would not have sufficient time to both test his foot and see how it responds. As it is, by hitting Craig sixth, the Cards will have flexibility in being able to remove him for a pinch-runner or late-game defensive sub should that need arise.

Craig, who is expected to return to a designated-hitter role once the series shifts back to Boston, is 4-for-9 in the World Series following a seven-week layoff. Craig had a pinch-hit single on Sunday but was removed before having to run the bases again.

"He felt better yesterday, much better than what he thought he was going to feel, and even better today," Matheny said. "So that's continued to move forward."

Cardinals look to break out in revamped order

W2013 Gm5: Matheny on lineup and pitcher availability

ST. LOUIS -- In an effort to spark his offense against Boston left-hander Jon Lester, who shut down the Cardinals for seven innings in Game 1, manager Mike Matheny made a few adjustments to his lineup Monday.

After leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter, Matheny inserted right-handed-hitting Shane Robinson into the two-hole, and moved Carlos Beltran to the cleanup spot after Matt Holliday. A hobbled Allen Craig will play the field for the first time since spraining his left foot on Sept. 4, starting at first base for a slumping Matt Adams and batting sixth.

Adams is batting 3-for-17 in this series, while Craig shined as a pinch-hitter in Games 3 and 4. Craig's return to the lineup offers protection behind catcher Yadier Molina. David Freese and Pete Kozma round out the lineup in the seventh and eighth spots, respectively.

"We're trying to do some things in our lineup," Matheny said. "We take everything into consideration and realize that trying to get some more depth. Also trying to get more traffic for the guys that can drive in runs.

"Shane has been doing a nice job taking good at-bats. [This] gives him an opportunity with [Carpenter] to really set the table and lengthen out our lineup through the middle."

The St. Louis offense has underperformed to its regular-season standards, batting .217 in the playoffs. After setting the Major League record with a .330 average with runners in scoring position, the Cards have gone 8-for-29 in those situations and left a combined 32 runners on base in the World Series. Are they pressing to make something happen on baseball's biggest stage?

"This is the two best teams in baseball going at it. And they've got a good pitching staff and we've got a good pitching staff," Carpenter said. "Somebody is going to win those battles. Pitching has pretty much dominated this postseason thus far, and in those situations, things are tough. And that's not just to make excuses, that's just the way it is.

"We could certainly do a better job, but I don't know if 'pressing' is the word for [it]. I just think that we just haven't found a way to get those runs in like we were in the regular season. But we've still got a couple more opportunities, a couple more games left to try to figure this out and hopefully we can change that tonight."

Wong surrounded by support after baserunning gaffe

WS2013 Gm5: Carpenter, Matheny on team helping Wong

ST. LOUIS -- A day after making dubious baseball history, Cardinals rookie Kolten Wong found himself engulfed by unconditional support inside the clubhouse on Monday at Busch Stadium.

Game 4 the night before was the first in World Series history to end on a pickoff, with Wong on the wrong end of Red Sox closer Koji Uehara's throw over to first base. It was a particularly painful end for the Cards because they trailed by two runs, and had the postseason-proven Carlos Beltran at the plate representing the tying run.

Afterward, Wong fought off tears.

"We've got a couple of guys, myself included, that have said some things to him," second baseman Matt Carpenter said Monday. "Certainly, the message most importantly being that that was not the reason we lost the game. That's how the game ended, but certainly it was not the reason we lost. There were a lot of other factors that were in play.

"Those things happen. We are human. We make mistakes, and let's not make it more than it is. We've got to regroup."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny watched a series of his team's veterans check in with Wong throughout Monday afternoon, many of them sharing a particularly painful or embarrassing moment in their own careers.

"You can't forget how young these guys are, too," Matheny said. "I don't have any problem [with Wong showing emotion] because I appreciate that he cares so much."

In Matheny's view, "the moment just got the best of him."

"And, yeah, it affected him because he's human and he cares," Matheny said. "Fortunately, we have a good group of guys around here once again. We've talked about how they've helped these guys and prepared them, and they've also helped [younger players] through troubles because they've been there. Maybe not getting picked off to end a game in the World Series, but they've had their issues that we've all had, decisions that we've made that didn't necessarily work out. And you figure out how to get through it."

The pickoff marked the second straight night that ended in unprecedented fashion. In Game 3, the Cards won the first World Series game decided by obstruction, with Allen Craig hurdling Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Three days before that, Game 1 featured a rare reversal of a judgment call by the umpires, who huddled to rule that Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma had dropped a double-play feed at second base.

"It has been a strange couple of games," Carpenter said. "But that's what makes it exciting. This is what the postseason is all about. Baseball is a game that something you've never seen before can happen every day."

Worth noting

• Cardinals outfielder prospect Stephen Piscotty has been selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars Game, which will be televised by MLB Network and MLB.com at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. Piscotty has been placed on the East Division team. Piscotty, the 36th overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, is batting .347 with a .411 on-base percentage, five extra-base hits and six stolen bases in 13 AFL games so far.

• Rawlings will announce its 2013 Gold Glove Award recipients on Tuesday during an ESPN2 show at 7 p.m. CT. Both Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina were recently announced as finalists at their respective positions. On Monday, Molina was honored with his sixth Fielding Bible Award to recognize him as the game's best defensive catcher.

• The Cards will not travel to Boston after Monday's game but will instead leave St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon to make the trip. Matheny opted not to schedule a workout at Fenway Park on the off-day Tuesday.