ST. LOUIS -- After starting Jon Jay in center field against the first three left-handed starters the Cardinals faced this postseason, manager Mike Matheny chose instead to go with right-handed-hitting Shane Robinson against Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Friday night.
Robinson had last started on Sept. 29, the final day of the regular season. Limited to pinch-hitting duties in the Cards' first 10 playoff games, Robinson had taken only four at-bats since. His lone hit, though, was a key one: The 5-foot-9 outfielder's solo homer gave St. Louis a cushion in an eventual Game 4 win over Los Angeles.
"You take what he was able to do off the bench, it was certainly a spark. And we can use a spark," Matheny said. "We just evaluate every day. What does it look like? What do we need? What is everybody doing collectively and individually? There is sometimes we need a little extra. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But put everything into consideration, we have plenty of stats that support an opportunity for a right-hander to get in there.
"It's no secret that we're having trouble getting our consistent, productive offense. You just never know when that one piece might be able to help it."
Robinson did help in the Cardinals' series-ending 9-0 win, going 2-for-4, including a two-run single to cap a four-run third inning.
Right-handed hitters did fare a bit better (.202 batting average, .249 on-base percentage) against Kershaw than left-handed ones (.165 average, 224 OBP) entering Friday's game, though the assignment of hitting the 2013 NL Cy Young Award favorite is no easy task for anyone. In Game 2 of the NLCS, the Cardinals tallied just two hits off Kershaw in six innings. Jay, though, did contribute a sacrifice fly, which ended up driving in the only run of the game.
Overall in this series, Jay finished with four hits in 18 at-bats and had a troublesome time defensively. Robinson was 1-for-3 in his career against Kershaw entering Friday. The Dodgers' ace finished 0-4 against the Cards this season.
"[You have to] kind of have an idea of what pitch you might get that we want to do damage with, and [you have to be] waiting for it," Robinson said of his approach against Kershaw. "But yeah, a guy like Kershaw up there, you might not get too many pitches in an at-bat, so you might have to be aggressive a little bit earlier or on a pitch that you might not necessarily want to swing at."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.