ST. LOUIS – After colliding with Will Middlebrooks at third, scrambling to pick himself up, crawling over Middlebrooks, who was still stomach-down on the ground, lumbering down the third base line, and practically collapsing as he slid into home plate, where Jarrod Saltalamacchia was waiting to meet him with a tag, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Allen Craig just laid there.
He wasn’t at 100 percent to begin with.
By the end of a wild, chaotic and confusing sequence, he was tapped.
The lingering effects of the foot injury that had sidelined him for seven weeks couldn’t have been more clear as he practically limped toward home plate.
What motivated Craig while he rehabbed was the possibility of returning for the World Series, so he pushed through the pain, laced a double and ultimately scored the winning run in the Cardinals 5-4 victory over the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series.
“This guy, I don’t think people realize how tough this injury is and how bad [it is].” said Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter. “This was Kirk Gibson-esque. For him to come off the bench and to hit a double and then score and hustle and basically – hopefully he didn’t do it – but it looked like blew himself out trying to get the winning run. That’s what the postseason’s all about and that was a gutsy performance.”
Craig was able to DH in the first two games of the series, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn’t want to take any chances of him doing too much too soon by playing in the field.
Pinch-hitting him seemed to be the safest call, but Craig ended up being thrown into a pressure-soaked situation.
“This is a guy that, he took an extra step, he pushed through just to get on this roster.” Carpenter said. “This was one of those deals where he was not 100 percent, but he wanted to be out there and he thought he could help us – with at-bats.
“Then to be put in a situation where running as hard as you can to possibly win a game and he hasn’t really gotten to be able to do that physically, and he still did it, pushed through it, and we ended up winning because of it.”
Carpenter had to be helped off the field by teammates and trainers and after the game. His status was uncertain.
“He was in pain,” outfielder Carlos Beltran said. “I don’t know exactly what happened to him, but hopefully nothing badly happened to him because he’s very valuable for us.”