St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran injured his right knee running to first base in game three of the NL Championship Series. The extent of his injury is unkown and he is questionable for Thursday’s game four against the San Francisco Giants. St. Louis leads the best of seven series two games to one.
Beltran pulled up lame after hitting a ground ball in the first inning. He immediately left the game and was replaced by Matt Carpenter. As recent Cardinals luck would have it, Carpenter hit a two run homer off of Giants starter Matt Cain in the bottom of the third. It gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead. The Cardinals added a run in the seventh on their way to a 3-1 victory.
If Beltran can not play in game four St. Louis will lose its most potent bat. He is currently hitting .400 in the 2012 MLB playoffs. Before joining the Cardinals, Beltran participated in the post season once each with the Houston Astros and New York Mets. Overall, he has batted .378 with 14 home runs and 25 RBI in the playoffs.
Carpenter is the most likely replacement for Beltran. In game three he went one for three with the two run homer. It goes without saying that he is not the hitter Beltran is. Carpenter batted .294 in the regular season with six home runs and 46 RBI.
Beltran was brought in from San Francisco to pick up some of the slack left by the departure of first baseman Albert Pujols. Pujols had led St. Louis to two world’s championships before signing as a free agent with the Los Angeles Angels. His bat has surely been missed in 2012, but the Cardinals have done enough to win without him.
St. Louis figured that they would get back to post season play and hoped Beltran would be the big bat in the lineup which kept opponents honest. So far, he has. If he can not continue or has to play hurt it would be a major blow to the Cardinals.
When Pujols was with St. Louis they could almost always count on him to come up with the big hit and drive in the big run. He is no longer there. It is up to Beltran to do what Pujols used to.
The Cardinals have been a resilient bunch since September of 2011. St. Louis has believed that they can win with Beltran just as they did with Pujols. For it to happen, Beltran’s knee must not keep him out of the lineup.
If it does, the whole dynamics of the 2012 NL Championship Series change.