UPDATE: Monday, October 22, 3:35 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney
There was some doubt, but Matt Holliday will be in the Cardinals lineup for Game 7 on Monday night.
Tonight's #Cardinals lineup - Jay CF, Beltran RF, Holliday LF, Craig 1B, Molina C, Freese 3B, Descalso 2B, Kozma SS and Lohse RHP— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) October 22, 2012
Holliday has struggled in these playoffs, hitting just .222, but there's no question that the Cardinals, who have scored just one run over the past two games, need him in the lineup.
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UPDATE: Monday, October 22, 1:30 p.m. ET by Donald Wood
While the St. Louis Cardinals will need all hands on deck for their Game 7 matchup with the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, star outfielder Matt Holliday is questionable with tightness in his back.
Mike Matheny said Holliday's back tightened up more as the game progressed on Sunday. Not sure that bodes well for a Game 7 return.— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) October 22, 2012
This is a huge blow to a St. Louis team that needs all the offensive help it can find. While the pitching staffs will be on full display in the series finale, the Cardinals' task of scoring runs off Giants ace Matt Cain may have just gotten even tougher.
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UPDATE: Monday, October 22 at 12:48 a.m. ET by Ian Hanford
ESPN's Jim Bowden shed some light on Holliday's status with Monday's Game 7 approaching:
Cardinals source not for attribution "highly doubtful Holliday will be able to play tomorrow .....lots of pain... really unfortunate"— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) October 22, 2012
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Now with a shot to clinch a berth to the World Series tonight in Game 6 of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, Holliday has been relegated to the bench.
On Sunday, the team decided to remove the right-handed slugger from the lineup roughly an hour before the first pitch due to his ongoing back issues, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch:
Holliday scratched w/ back stiffness. Craig in LF. Carpenter at 1B.— Joe Strauss (@JoeStrauss) October 21, 2012
Without Holliday manning the three-hole, the lineup has been reconfigured, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com:
Matt Carpenter to play first base, bat second. Carlos Beltran will hit third. Allen Craig moves to left field.— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) October 21, 2012
Holliday has really struggled thus far in the NLCS. He has collected a mere four hits in 21 at-bats with two RBI and one run scored. Through 12 postseason games he is hitting just .222.
With two chances to finish off the Giants, clearly the Cardinals brass believes the injury is significant enough to roll the dice without him in Game 6.
Matt Carpenter likely made the decision easier.
After taking over for an injured Carlos Beltran in Game 3, Carpenter hit a two-run homer in the third inning that was ultimately the fatal blow in a 3-1 win. He is currently hitting .333 in the postseason with three RBI. While he may not have the resume and postseason experience of Holliday, Carpenter is certainly a worthy replacement.
As for Holliday, now is the time to sound the alarm on his health moving forward. The Cards can ill-afford to lose him for the rest of the NLCS, let alone the World Series if St. Louis were to advance.
Check back with Bleacher Report for the latest information regarding one of the biggest developing stories of the MLB postseason.