Cards opt for offense, start Descalso over Kozma

Cards opt for offense, start Descalso over Kozma

Cards opt for offense, start Descalso over Kozma

LOS ANGELES -- Seeking any way to spark a recently sluggish offense, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny unplugged defensive-minded shortstop Pete Kozma and replaced him with Daniel Descalso in Tuesday night's Game 4 National League Championship Series lineup.

"We need offense. That is all there is to it," Matheny said. "I love Pete, and boy, has he been just as good defensively as any other time all season. It's been a big help for us. But we need a spark. You look back even last year at what Descalso was able to do in the postseason, and you know that he can be a guy who can sometimes get things going for us. We thought we would take a shot with him."

Descalso, who slides into the eight-hole in the batting order, is 4-for-14 in his career against Game 4 starter Ricky Nolasco. The infielder has just two hits in 11 at-bats this postseason, though hardly any of his teammates have fared much better. Of the 13 position players on the Cardinals' 25-man roster, only one (Yadier Molina ) has posted a batting average north of .250.

During the regular season, five Cards hitters -- Molina (.319), Matt Carpenter (.318), Allen Craig (.315), Matt Holliday (.300) and Carlos Beltran (.296) -- finished with batting averages in the top 15 among all NL hitters.

Through three NLCS games, the Cardinals have a .134 batting average, the lowest by a club after three LCS games. The lowest team average by an LCS winner was the .183 mark posted by Oakland in its 1974 American League Championship Series win over Baltimore.

"Everybody is kind of in a spot right now," Matheny said. "It's the [Dodgers'] pitching partly. You never want to give too much of that, because our guys have done it against some of the best pitchers. Right now, the whole group ... is a click off right now. I've seen it click overnight and [then] we go. I've seen some real nice swings on some mistakes, but there haven't been that many mistakes. Just almost. That 'almost' is a minor adjustment, and hopefully those guys can make it."

Aside from inserting Descalso back into the starting lineup for the first time since Game 2 of the NL Division Series, Matheny stuck with the same batting order he has used against right-handed starters all postseason. Kozma is 1-for-19 this postseason.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.