ST. LOUIS -- It was the Reds who clinched a division championship on Tuesday night, but the Cardinals' lineup on Wednesday looked an awful lot like one you might see the morning after a celebration.
That's not entirely a coincidence. Manager Tony La Russa chose to rest several regulars for the first game after St. Louis was eliminated from playoff contention, including Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Skip Schumaker.
"The big thing with Schu and Matt and Albert is that it's the first day you come to the park since the first day of the season that you're out of it," La Russa said. "And it's immediately after you lost last night. So mentally, it's just the recognition; you just give them a day."
Over the season's final four games, though, La Russa expects to field representative lineups. He does not view the final five games as an audition period.
"If we'd gotten to early September and we were out of it, then you can look to the future," La Russa said. "But we've got five games. Albert's going to play. I'll play him, for sure, [and] maybe Matt three out of the four against Colorado.
"If somebody comes up sore, [that's another matter]. But mostly, we've got five chances to win a game."