ST. LOUIS — Matt Carpenter isn’t the only leadoff hitter struggling in the Pirates-Cardinals National League Division Series.
Like Carpenter, Pirates left fielder Starling Marte s 1-for-15, and hasn’t been on base in the past two games. Marte, who hit .280/.343/.441 in the regular season, homered and walked in Game 2 but is 0-for-12 in the other three games.
But neither manager even considered making a change at the top of their batting orders or shuffling their lineups for Wednesday night’s decisive Game 5. Both clubs will start the same eight players in the same order as they did in Game 4.
“I feel our best effort is to give men this opportunity to have success, and I believe our best effort tonight in Game 5, let these men be in their comfort zone,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Hurdle said from his experience and talking to other managers, to start fooling around with the batting order at this point could send the wrong message.
Explained Hurdle: “A couple (of players) go up, couple go down. What do the two going up feel like? What do the two going down feel like? Now you have half of your lineup that you’ve maybe just messed with.”
Though Mike Matheny often shuffled players in the batting order during the regular season, he did not move Carpenter around once he took over the leadoff role in April. Of course, the way Carpenter performed at the top of the order, Matheny had no need to drop him. He isn’t about to start now, either.
“Just like everything else, we handle him the exact same way we’ve handled him all season long,” Matheny said at his pre-game presser. “Right now Matt’s guilty of carrying too much. This kid has completely bought into that idea that it’s about us and not himself, and feels that probably he needs to carry more weight than what he actually does.”
Getting Carpenter to understand that he doesn’t have to carry a heavy burden is the challenge.
“We’re trying to convince him that he just needs to go be the same guy that he’s been all season,” Matheny said. “Not production‑wise, but just with the approach, just where he goes out and is himself. He doesn’t need to carry this offense. He needs to be Matt Carpenter, nothing more, nothing less and to trust himself. Trust the fact that the kind of season that he had was not a fluke.”
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