ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter was back in the lineup for Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Sunday at Busch Stadium, manning third and batting sixth.
Carpenter was responsible for his team's sole run in the 3-1 loss, plating Marcell Ozuna with a sacrifice fly.
The third baseman has been used primarily in a bench role since Tommy Edman took over at third during the second half of the season, but Carpenter has been productive in that role. In Game 1 on Thursday, he delivered the game-tying single in the eighth inning of the Cardinals’ eventual win.
Sunday gives the Cardinals a platoon advantage, pitting Carpenter, a lefty, against Braves righty Mike Soroka, who relies on a heavy sinker-slider combo. The rookie starter has held right-handed batters to a .537 OPS this season, while left-handers have a .750 OPS against him.
Carpenter’s first postseason start this year pushed Edman to right field and Dexter Fowler to center field. That leaves Harrison Bader on the bench for a double-switch option late in the game. Taking Bader out means not as much speed in center field, but Bader struck out three times in Friday’s loss -- all on breaking pitches.
“We try not to live in too big of a silo, but we do recognize these games are silos,” manager Mike Shildt said after Friday’s loss. “And they have weight to them. We're always looking to field our best total team. There's a lot of factors in that. We've discussed that.”
Hudson to start Game 4
Shildt also confirmed that Dakota Hudson will start Game 4 on Monday at Busch Stadium. The rookie right-hander had been available out of the bullpen in Games 1 and 2, but will go back to the dugout for Sunday’s game in preparation for his start Monday. Miles Mikolas, who started Game 1 on Thursday, would be available out of the bullpen if necessary.
“I think Dakota will be our Game 4 guy,” Shildt said. “You never say never, but I don't think we're going to compromise our Game 4. We've got plenty of pitching.”
Hudson led rookie starters in wins (16) this season and he had a 2.75 ERA at Busch Stadium compared to a 4.13 ERA on the road.
Waino hopes to draw on his postseason past
Game 3 starter Adam Wainwright is no newbie to the postseason. He’s pitched in 24 playoff games over his 14-year career, and he has started 12 of them. Sunday will be his 13th start, as he’s set to take on the Braves at 3:10 p.m. CT on TBS with the NLDS tied at one apiece.
The magnitude of the game and the environment of St. Louis welcoming back October baseball for the first time in three years was a factor to Wainwright getting the start. The opening ceremonies and introductions of the roster for the home team is enough to get anyone’s adrenaline going. As Matt Carpenter said on Friday: “There’s no better place than Busch Stadium in October.”
Wainwright has experienced that and been through it before.
“It's a fair question, and that is when and why do you pitch guys?” Shildt said on Saturday. “Why does it -- when does it make sense? And at every turn there's a reason for it. In this case, being back at home and the pageantry, the first postseason game in several years. ... Opening ceremonies, that kind of thing. It's also a rubber-match game. There's a factor to that, too. They're all big games.
“But I think it's appropriate that Adam starts our home playoff game in a deadlock series.”
Wainwright mentioned that he’s let the emotions get the best of him before and seen the results. In Game 1 of the NLDS in 2014, he threw 102 pitches in 4 1/3 innings in the Cardinals’ eventual win over the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw.
“You have to account for some of the vibe that's going on out there. You have to be able to calm your nerves and you have to be able to control your adrenaline, because I've seen it where guys go out there and they're feeling on top of the moon and their adrenaline is rushing, and two innings later they're out of gas. I've seen it. I've done it once.”