Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holliday a Hit in Return to Lineup

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holliday a Hit in Return to Lineup

Article excerpt

The clock is ticking, the postseason is coming and the Cardinals fast approach decisions about a 25-man roster and a second season. In that context, Matt Holliday started in left field and batted third on Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium III.

"It feels great," said Holliday, "feels good to be back out there. It's all about having good at-bats and helping the team win."

Holliday had three at-bats in the 10-2 win. He flied out in the first, doubled home a run in a three-run third and took a third strike in the fifth before coming out of the game. He also made a running catch of Jay Bruce's shallow fly ball in the second inning.

One thing is certain, manager Mike Matheny enjoyed putting Holliday's name on the lineup card.

"Happy to hear that yesterday (workouts) went well and he felt good today," Matheny explained. "And so we're able to get him in there and hopefully get him into a good spot and a rhythm."

Holliday was making his first start since re-injuring his right quadriceps in the first inning of a game with the Reds on July 29 at Busch. Grounding to third, he aggravated the leg running to first base. The Reds doubled up the gimpy Holliday and he came out of the game immediately.

Now he is back, at least that's the hope.

"I don't know," Holliday said. "It's too early to say. I don't know how to answer that."

Holliday's streak of nine consecutive seasons with 20 or more home runs will end this season. In truth, it might have been in trouble anyway. The 35-year-old "Big Daddy" is batting .288 with four home runs and 32 RBIs in 67 games and 212 at-bats before Wednesday. A pace of one homer every 52 at-bats requires more than 1,000 at-bats to reach 20.

But reputation and respect still mean something in baseball. Holliday represents a threat, influences a lineup, changes how those batting in front and behind him are treated. If he is swinging well, he is still a bear, still a danger, still difficult. The challenge is to get him right.

"I don't know that I'm 100 percent," Holliday said. "But I know that if I want to be a factor down the stretch that I need to get out there and start to get good at-bats. …

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