ST. LOUIS -- The complexities of writing out the lineup card are shifting for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who, after spending so much of the season trying to fill in the blanks while watching the team's disabled list hold so much of his offensive talent, now seems to have a surplus of capable (and healthy) starters.
There will be some, while perhaps deserving of everyday at-bats, left out. And then there will be Stephen Piscotty, who asserted again with a four-RBI night in Thursday's 7-3 win over the Brewers that he isn't going anywhere.
Summoned in July when the team needed a spark, Piscotty, in just two months, has redefined himself from placeholder to priority. He plugged a vacancy in left field while Matt Holliday was recovering from a quad injury, but the rookie isn't likely to be pushed aside now that Holliday is shedding his limitations. If left field isn't open for Piscotty, first base or another spot in the outfield will be.
Piscotty's bat has essentially assured that will be the case, even if Matheny is not ready to make any verbal promises.
"[We're] just not getting too far ahead," Matheny said after his team reduced its magic number for a division title to six. "We're a club. We're a team. Guys are going to have different roles throughout the season, and it could be the same thing going forward. It's just what gives us our best chance for this individual game."
Piscotty has been a needed boost for the offense, which is collectively beginning to show some life again. After belting four home runs on Wednesday, the Cardinals had a timely pair on Thursday. Piscotty followed Jhonny Peralta's game-tying, three-run blast with his sixth home run in 58 career games. In his next at-bat, Piscotty delivered a two-run single. His final time up, he laced another RBI hit.
The rookie now has eight go-ahead RBIs this season, second most on the team since he made his July 21 Major League debut. Piscotty's seven game-winning RBIs are tops on the team during that stretch.
"I love it," Piscotty said of stepping to the plate in big spots. "I love it, especially at this level. Going back to college [at Stanford University], I remember we were fighting to win a national championship and there were some cool moments. Once you get a little taste of that, that's what you're playing for. You're not playing for your numbers or your stats or anything. You're playing for those moments."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.