ST. LOUIS -- A day after giving Carlos Beltran the night off, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny left third baseman David Freese off his lineup card on Wednesday against the Astros. Matheny cited fatigue as the issue, though the timing of the lineup adjustment was also quite deliberate. After these two remaining games against the Astros, the Cardinals will embark on a 10-game road swing that could dramatically swing their season one way or another. The club will make stops in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to play three games against each of the teams the Cards are looking up at in the National League Central. And then there's a four-game stay in Washington, where the Cardinals will get their first look at the Nationals, who currently own the best record in baseball.
As willing as he's been to give veterans days to rest this season, Matheny said he would prefer not to be so liberal with those days during the upcoming trip. Having the 39-84 Astros in town seems to provide a much more advantageous timing for lineup tweaks. "I think I sense fatigue in everybody in all aspects of their game right now," Matheny said. "That's just part of it. We're just trying to watch everyone carefully, see who needs [a day off] here or there. We have a tough road trip ahead of us." Freese has started 18 of the 19 games the Cardinal shave played so far in August, including all 19 innings of Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh. His production this month, though, has waned. After batting .458 in July, Freese carries a .174 average in August. He has three extra-base hits and has struck out 19 times in 69 at-bats. "He's been tired," Matheny said of his third baseman. "This was a good day to get him down and hopefully get recharged a bit."