NLCS Game 3: Cardinals Lineup Strong In Middle

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has posted his Game 3 lineup, and it's a beaut!

1. Rafael Furcal# SS
2. Jon Jay* CF
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Matt Holliday LF
5. Lance Berkman# RF
6. Yadier Molina C
7. David Freese 3B
8. Nick Punto# 2B
9. Chris Carpenter P

This is the same lineup La Russa deployed in Game 2, and almost the same lineup he deployed in Game 1, the differences being that Ryan Theriot batted eighth and played second base and went hitless in Game 1 and the Cardinals lost, while Nick Punto batted eighth and played second base and went 2 for 4 in Game 2 and the Cardinals won.

Thus, Nick Punto in Game 3.

Skip Schumaker would be La Russa's favorite second baseman, except he was dropped from the NLCS roster with an oblique injury. He does hope to play in the World Series if the Cardinals advance, but for the moment it's essentially Punto or Theriot at second base. Batting eighth, because neither can hit like David Freese (or even Yadier Molina).

La Russa's bench gives him a great deal of flexibility, with one exception: He doesn't really have a decent left-handed hitter on the bench, which might make life Ron Roenicke's job just a little bit easier in the seventh inning tonight.

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