Phillies Notes: Cardinals' Craig starts in Holliday's place for NLDS Game 1

Righthanded starter Joe Blanton, who was sidelined much of the year, was chosen for the final spot on the Phillies' postseason roster over another righthander, reliever David Herndon.
Righthanded starter Joe Blanton, who was sidelined much of the year, was chosen for the final spot on the Phillies' postseason roster over another righthander, reliever David Herndon. (JOHN BAZEMORE / Associated Press)
Posted: October 02, 2011

St. Louis was missing an all-star corner outfielder in Game 1 of the National League division series, but Charlie Manuel saw little change in his opposition even without Matt Holliday

.

"When I look down at their lineup . . . almost every guy in their order is hitting from .280 to .300, and they've got a tremendous offense," the Phillies manager said.

That's because Tony La Russa was able to replace Holliday - who has tendinitis in his right middle finger - with Allen Craig, a 27-year-old late bloomer much like the Phillies' John Mayberry Jr.

Craig, just like Mayberry, took full advantage of playing time during the regular season. He batted .315 with a .917 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 200 at-bats and hit lefties and righties equally well. That made losing Holliday, who mashed 22 home runs and batted .296, somewhat manageable.

La Russa included Holliday on the team's postseason roster and hinted before Game 1 that his absence may not last long. "At the very least, we think he can take an important at-bat," La Russa said. "And as he keeps working it, we'll see if more is possible. I wouldn't even think about [Sunday's] lineup, which he could play in, but if not - if he never [starts], I think he could be a significant weapon off the bench."

Craig walked and scored in the ninth. Holliday did get an at-bat as a pinch-hitter. He struck out to end the game.

Explaining Blanton

The lone roster decision for the Phillies was their 11th pitcher, which is Joe Blanton instead of David Herndon. Manuel said Blanton's experience and recent effectiveness were an easy selling point.

"David Herndon pitched good at times for us this year," Manuel said. "Actually he did a good job. It was a hard decision. We liked the way that Blanton has bounced back, and also we liked stuff as far as pitches that he has. It was a tough decision, so with the first round we left David off. I'm sure that that was tough for David, but at the same time we feel that Blanton can help us."

Ugly finish

Rookie reliever Mike Stutes made the first postseason appearance of his career in the ninth inning of the 11-6 win over the Cardinals.

The righthander would just as soon forget it. St. Louis roughed him up for three runs and three hits in one-third of an inning. Ryan Madson replaced him and two of the runners the closer inherited scored on a double by Scott Schumaker. Madson put an end to the restlessness by striking out Jon Jay and Holliday .

In 57 regular-season appearances, Stutes had allowed as many as three runs twice.

Second chance

Shane Victorino got a rare second chance to produce after Cardinals third baseman David Freese failed to make an over-the-shoulder catch of a pop-up in foul territory in the fourth inning.

It would have been the third out of the inning, and Victorino went on to single in Chase Utley from second base to cut the St. Louis lead to 3-1.

Extra bases

The Phillies had two advance scouts watch the Cardinals in their final nine games of the season. Howie Freiling and Dan Wright delivered their report to Manuel and his coaches Thursday. . . . Manuel, as expected, used the same lineup for Game 1 as he did near the end of the regular season. That meant Utley was hitting second.


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb

at mgelb@phillynews.com or @magelb on Twitter.

 

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