It’s unlikely the St. Louis Cardinals will be at full strength for the postseason, but they’re getting closer.
Walker was back in the Cardinals’ lineup Saturday after missing 26 games due to a herniated disc in his neck. The three-time NL batting champ went 0-for-3 before being lifted for a pinch hitter, but the Cardinals beat the Giants 4-2.
One day earlier, catcher Yadier Molina returned after missing more than a month with a broken hand. While they could get back outfielder Reggie Sanders early next month, the Cardinals learned this week that third baseman Scott Rolen may not return this season because he needs shoulder surgery.
Without Rolen, who finished fourth in last year’s NL MVP voting, St. Louis would like to see Walker get on track as the playoffs approach.
Hitting .267 with 11 homers and 40 RBIs in 74 games, Walker had been working out with the team and taking batting practice all week.
“I needed a few days to run and get my legs underneath me. I’m not 25,” said the 38-year-old Walker, one shy of reaching 1,300 RBIs for his career.
“In the old days, I could sit a couple weeks and play, and it didn’t matter. Now, I need to do some stretching and running to try and get my legs underneath me and get my body ready.”
Walker tried to make a diving play in the sixth inning, but the ball eluded him and rolled to the wall, resulting in Ray Durham’s tying two-run double.
“That’s the type of guys we have. He’s, I don’t know, 45 years old and he’s diving for balls,” said starter Matt Morris, who got his 100th career win. “He almost came up with it. It was a heck of an effort.”
Following this contest, the Cardinals begin their longest road trip of the season. The 13-game trek takes them to Pittsburgh, Washington, Florida and Houston—the last three of which are batting for the NL wild card.
The Cardinals have won four of five to increase their NL Central lead over the second-place Astros to 13 games.
The Giants are closing a 13-game road trip, having gone 5-7 after losing their third in a row Friday. They’re hoping to avoid being swept by St. Louis for the first time since Sept. 11-13, 1995.
Durham has driven in four of San Francisco’s six runs in this series.