One of baseball's most dangerous postseason hitters is back in the lineup for Game 2. Carlos Beltran exited Wednesday's game after two innings with a severe right rib bruise, but X-rays and a CT scan came up negative and he was medically cleared to play Thursday.
The right fielder, who has batted .337 with 16 home runs and 37 RBIs in 45 career playoff games, was injured crashing into the low right-field wall at Fenway Park, reaching over to rob David Ortiz of a grand slam in the second inning of Game 1.
At shortstop, manager Mike Matheny opted for Daniel Descalso's left-handed bat against righty John Lackey. Descalso, batting ninth on Thursday, hit .250 against righties in the regular season compared to the right-handed-hitting Pete Kozma's .232.
Matheny has primarily gone with Kozma's steady defensive presence at short in the postseason, starting him in nine games to Descalso's three. However, Kozma committed two errors in the first two innings of Game 1.
Falling in line with his typical regular-season lineup versus right-handed pitchers, Matt Adams was moved up to the cleanup spot and lefty hitter Jon Jay returned to center field, batting eighth. The move shifted righty Shane Robinson back to the bench after consecutive starts against left-handers.
In his first action since spraining his left foot Sept. 4, Allen Craig went 1-for-4. Craig is in the lineup again as the Cardinals designated hitter, batting sixth for the first time in 2013.
1. Matt Carpenter (2B) 2. Beltran (RF) 3. Matt Holliday (LF) 4. Adams (1B) 5. Yadier Molina (C) 6. Craig (DH) 7. David Freese (3B) 8. Jay (CF) 9. Descalso (SS) Michael Wacha (P)
Wednesday's Game 1 marked just the third time this postseason that three of the Red Sox best hitters -- Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz, Mike Napoli -- each recorded a hit in the same game. Pedroia hit two singles and scored a pair or runs, Ortiz belted a two-run homer and had a near-grand slam plucked over the right-field fence, Napoli knocked a three-run double and, for the first time this October, the heart of the Boston lineup appeared in sync.
"Each guy has the ability to carry us," manager John Farrell said. "Anytime you get multiple guys that are swinging the bat as [Ortiz, Pedroia and Napoli were], it gives us the ability to put a crooked number up inside an inning."
Farrell stuck with nearly the same lineup for Game 2, inserting Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate to catch Lackey in place of David Ross. Saltalamacchia will bat seventh, bumping Stephen Drew and Xander Bogaerts to eighth and ninth, respectively. Though Farrell's decision to continue pairing Ross with Game 1 starter Jon Lester was motivated by Ross's knack for handling Lester on the mound, Ross has also been the better hitter this postseason by a slight margin.
Saltalamacchia batted .273 in the regular season, but is 6-for-26 (.231) with five RBIs and a walk through 11 playoff games. By comparison, Ross is hitting 4-for-13 (.308) with an RBI and a walk in fewer opportunities this month after batting .216 in the regular season.