St. Louis first baseman Allen Craig has a sprained left foot but no fracture, a big relief for a Cardinals team that feared it had lost its cleanup hitter for the rest of the season.
Craig hurt his foot while rounding first base in the fourth inning of a 5-4, 16-inning win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. He stayed on the ground for a long time and walked off gingerly.
X-rays in Cincinnati were inconclusive. He was sent back to St. Louis for an MRI and more X-rays on Thursday that indicated nothing was broken.
"We just got word that the X-rays did come back with no fracture," manager Mike Matheny said Thursday evening. "It looks like a sprained foot right now, but it’s much more optimistic than what we were thinking last night."
The second-place Cardinals moved to within a game of Pittsburgh in the NL Central with their win on Wednesday night. Cincinnati is third, 3 games out. All three are in position to make the playoffs — one as the division champion, the other two as the wild cards.
Craig ranked third in the NL with 97 RBIs when he was hurt. He’s batting .454 with runners in scoring position, the best in the majors.
Matheny said the Cardinals’ medical staff was going to meet with Craig later Thursday to figure out a course of treatment. There was no estimate of how long he might be sidelined.
When he walked slowly off the field on Wednesday night and got X-rays that were inconclusive, the Cardinals feared he could be sidelined for the rest of the season.
"You watch him go down like he did, watch him having trouble getting off the field, and you wonder if he’s going to play the rest of the season," Matheny said. "I think right now we’re optimistic we’re going to see him through this year at some point."
Matt Adams will take over at first base. Adams got into the game Wednesday night when Craig got hurt and broke an 0-for-17 slump with a homer in the 14th inning, but the Reds tied it in the bottom of the inning.
Adams homered again in the 16th inning to win it, becoming the first Cardinals player with two homers in extra innings. Adams ranks third in the NL with a .324 average as a pinch hitter. He’s batting .269 overall with 11 homers and 38 RBIs.
"We’re going to get him in there and let him play," Matheny said. "We’ve seen him on a consistent basis doing a real nice job for us."
Catcher Tony Cruz was in the lineup for the final game of the series on Thursday night. Cruz went on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 15 with a stress fracture in his left forearm. Cruz is batting .212 with one homer and 11 RBIs in 41 games.
Cruz was the Cardinals’ primary catcher when Yadier Molina missed 15 days with a sprained right knee, starting 11 of the 14 games while he was gone.
After finishing their final series of the season against Cincinnati, the Cardinals return home for a three-game series against Pittsburgh, their final head-to-head games of the season.