Cards opt for Pierzynski's experience over Cruz

Cards opt for Pierzynski's experience over Cruz

SAN FRANCISCO -- Because manager Mike Matheny has abstained from tinkering with any of his other starting position players, catching remains the only position at which he had much of a decision to make for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday. He eventually settled with veteran A.J. Pierzynski over lifetime Cardinal Tony Cruz.

Of all the factors that went into that decision, Matheny said the most influential was also the most recent.

  Date Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 11 SF 3, STL 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 12 STL 5, SF 4 video
Gm 3 Oct. 14 SF 5, STL 4 video
Gm 4 Oct. 15 SF 6, STL 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 16 SF 6, STL 3 video

"I thought [Pierzynski] did a good job yesterday. It's yesterday driven," Matheny explained. "He did a nice job. You look at two of those hits we gave up in the first [inning] and the balls were neck high. And I thought [Pierzynski] put together a real nice swing in left-center. Hit today [without the wind], it's probably a double. I think the potential he brings offensively, the experience, and he didn't hurt us defensively."

Pierzynski caught Game 4 starter Shelby Miller six times this season, with Miller posting a 4.29 ERA with Pierzynski behind the plate. It was lower with Yadier Molina (3.57) and Cruz (3.80), though the sample sizes with both Cruz (23 2/3 innings) and Pierzynski (33 2/3 innings) were small.

As for looking for the better offensive matchup against Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong, Matheny didn't have many data points to work with. Cruz has never faced Vogelsong, while Pierzynski is hitless in two previous at-bats against him.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.