For now, Beltran right at home in No. 2 spot in Cards' order
ST. LOUIS, Apr 19, 2012 (Belleville News-Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Versatility in their lineup is an asset the St. Louis Cardinals possess.
Take Carlos Beltran, for example. The switch-hitter is capable of batting anywhere in the order, but for now, manager Mike Matheny is satisfied with Beltran's work in the No. 2 spot.
Beltran is batting .341 average with five home runs, seven RBIs, a .707 slugging percentage and a .460 on-base percentage. Table-setter or run-producer, Beltran can answer the call.
"It worked pretty good in the two hole (Tuesday)," Matheny said, referring to Beltran's 2-for-3 performance that included a home run and two walks in a 2-1 win in 10 innings over Cincinnati.
"You can always speculate, 'Hey, look at that home run. Just think if he was batting fifth right now.' But he may not get the same pitches (batting fifth)."
Beltran, who also homered in an 11-1 victory Wednesday, has a career on-base percentage of .362, along with a slugging percentage of .497. Whatever a team needs, Beltran's past indicates an ability to handle the assignment.
"In general, he's always had a high on-base percentage," Matheny said. "But he also has a knack for driving in runs. Right now, we've got a good, solid group behind him that has been putting together hard at-bats. Whether they're (getting) hits or not, that's another issue. But I like where (Beltran) is right now."
Wednesday was Beltran's seventh start in the No. 2 spot. He has batted cleanup four times. He's missed one game.
"We've seen him in the four hole already this year, and it's not going to be the last time," Matheny said. "You could put him three, four, five, two, six. He said, 'Put me wherever you think I'll help this team.'"
Matheny thought for a moment, then perished the thought of any lineup configuration that would have Beltran batting sixth.
"Six might be a stretch," Matheny said.
Theater of the mind
Matheny said he replayed the game Tuesday over and over in his thoughts, even though the Cardinals won.
Matheny, in particular, felt bad that Kyle Lohse didn't get the victory. The Cardinals led 1-0 when Matheny relieved Lohse after seven shutout innings, but the Reds tied the game at 1 with an unearned run against Mitchell Boggs in the eighth.
"For us to get the win is the bottom line," Matheny said. "There were some other victories in there that could have happened, like getting Kyle a win. He certainly deserved it. Absolutely, it went through my mind what could have happened if he went into the eighth.
"(But) I like the direction we went. There's a good chance we'll probably do it again (Thursday) because I have faith our guys are going to get the job done in the back end of our bullpen."
Lohse (2-0) threw just 90 pitches, walked one and struck out a season-high six. He lowered his ERA to 0.89 for 20 1/3 innings.
The eighth started poorly when second baseman Daniel Descalso let Ryan Hanigan's grounder get through his legs. Boggs then mishandled pinch-hitter Wilson's Valdez's sacrifice bunt for another error. Two outs later, Zack Cozart hit an RBI single to right.
"If your bullpen's continually giving up runs and guys just don't look right and they don't look comfortable in tough situations, then you change your game plan and try to stretch your starter," Matheny said. "In that particular instance, you could have easily taken Kyle and put him back out there.
"But I had great confidence in Mitchell Boggs. He came in and got the first-pitch ground ball, just like we wanted him to do. If that play's made, it could be a different story. But that's the way the game goes. Two errors led to a run. That's going to happen just about every (time)."
Greene gets nod
Right-handed-hitting Tyler Greene got the start at second base Wednesday as left-handed-hitting Descalso opened on the bench despite the Reds throwing right-hander Mat Latos.
Greene was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, a walk and a stolen base.
"We're trying to work him in whenever we can," Matheny said of Greene. "Be it a night game, day game, pick one side or the other."
That would seem to indicate that Descalso will return to the lineup at 12:45 p.m. Thursday when the Reds pitch Bronson Arroyo (0-0, 2.63 ERA) against Adam Wainwright (0-2, 11.42) in the series finale.
Greene's start was his fifth at second base; the other start was at shortstop. He is batting .217 (5-for-23) with seven strikeouts.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.
___ (c)2012 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.) Visit the
Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.) at www.bnd.com Distributed by MCT
[ Back To SIP Trunking Home's Homepage ]