STL@MIL: Carpenter's double sets new Cardinals record

MILWAUKEE -- The base was nestled into Matt Carpenter's locker in the visitors' clubhouse at Miller Park. A baseball was in there, too. Carpenter will carry both home as a reminder of the night he passed Stan Musial.

Carpenter added another accolade to his career season when, with a fifth-inning double, he set a franchise record for most doubles by a left-handed hitter. Carpenter now has 54 on the season, one more than Musial hit in 1953.

"It's hard to fathom, really, when you start to think about it," Carpenter said after the Cardinals' 7-2 win. "You hear the name Stan Musial, and to know that you've done something to break a record that he held, I can't really put into words. It's really amazing."

After the game, Carpenter was presented with second base and the ball he hit into the right-field corner for his only hit of the night.

"Someone had mentioned to me last night that I had tied it, so when I hit it, I knew," Carpenter said. "It's definitely something that's a pretty cool feat and something I'm extremely proud of."

Carpenter likely won't catch Joe Medwick -- who has the overall franchise mark for single-season doubles with 64 in 1936 -- but the Cardinals second baseman is closing in on another meaningful benchmark. Carpenter leads the league with 194 hits, putting him only six away from being the first Cardinals player with a 200-hit season since Albert Pujols in 2003.

On Saturday, Carpenter also became just the second Cards player to tally 61 extra-base hits as a leadoff hitter. Only Lou Brock had more, collecting 65 in 1967 and 66 the year after. Carpenter's 67 RBIs from atop the lineup trail only Brock's 76 (1967) and Taylor Douthit's 84 (1930) in the franchise record books.

None of it, though, supersedes Carpenter's greater team goal.

"The only thing I'm eyeing is that division championship," Carpenter said. "If I can do my job to help us win, then all of those individual accomplishments will take care of themselves."

Grounds crew gets to work after Busch football game

Busch Stadium hosts large-scale special events

ST. LOUIS -- The Busch Stadium grounds crew will be busy this weekend.

The Cardinals' ballpark hosted Southeast Missouri State and Southern Illinois for its first college football game Saturday, and it left significant wear and tear in the outfield.

The grounds crew immediately went to work following the game -- which was won by the Salukis, 39-19, and drew a crowd of 14,168 -- and have about 48 hours to return the field to normal baseball conditions. The Cardinals open a six-game homestand Monday, beginning with an evening game against the Nationals.

"We certainly expected that there would be a lot of damage, and we were prepared for it," said Vicki Bryant, the Cardinals' vice president of event services and merchandising, who oversees all non-baseball events at Busch Stadium.

The crews began by removing the goalposts and tearing up the sod along the middle of the football field, which was oriented across the outfield to avoid removing the mound and minimize damage to the infield.

"It's labor intensive, there's no doubt about it," Bryant said. "It takes a lot of people, but it was a well-thought out, coordinated effort. We think we've got the best field crew in baseball. They'll have it in great shape by Monday."

In Milwaukee, where the Cardinals are in the middle of a series against the Brewers, general manager John Mozeliak said he had received a few texts about the condition of the field back in St. Louis. Asked about the timing of hosting a football game so close to the start of the postseason, Mozeliak said he would reserve commenting on possible field problems until he sees the condition in a few days.

"I have a lot of confidence in [head groundskeeper] Billy Findley and his staff, and they feel like they can get this field ready by Monday," Mozeliak said. "Not to say he's not feeling some stress involved in that, but he does think we can get it ready."

Players on both teams said the sand-based grass surface was slippery and required some getting used to compared with the turf football fields they more often play on.

"The field was coming up every time we tried to make a cut, but it's all about being an athlete and being able to adjust to it," said Southern Illinois tight end MyCole Pruitt, a Kirkwood, Mo., native.

"It was slippery out there and the dirt was pretty hard, so it was two different things we had to get used to at the same time," said Paul McRoberts, a Redhawks wide receiver from St. Louis. "I felt that we handled it well to be just put on the spot like that."

This is not the first time Busch Stadium has transformed its playing surface to house a different sport this season. Premier League clubs Chelsea and Manchester City drew a record 48,263 fans to an exhibition at the ballpark in May. In order to adapt the field for the soccer match, the mound had to be removed along with a layer of dirt in the infield and around home plate. The grounds crew had a full five days to convert it back to normal before the Cardinals' next home game.

Craig not expected to return before playoffs

STL@CIN: Beltran scores on error as Craig rolls ankle

MILWAUKEE -- Though Allen Craig continues to show progress as he heals from a foot sprain, the Cardinals are not expecting their first baseman to return to the field before the end of the regular season.

General manager John Mozeliak said that Craig is scheduled to be re-evaluated at the end of next week to determine the next step in his rehab process. Craig has been sidelined and wearing a walking boot since hobbling off the field in Cincinnati on Sept. 4. He suffered a mild left foot sprain in that game while awkwardly turning near first base.

The Cardinals are still hopeful that Craig will be back in the lineup for the postseason, though the organization continues to shy away from predicting a timetable.

Mozeliak said that the Cards may consider sending Craig down to the organization's instructional league to get at-bats against live pitching and play some innings in the field before reinserting him into the lineup. That league runs through Oct. 10.

Fortunate for the Cardinals, Craig's absence has thus far been mitigated by the job Matt Adams has done as a fill-in. With his two-run homer in the first inning on Saturday, Adams has gone deep seven times and driven in 14 runs since Craig went down. The Cardinals have won 11 of 16 games since the injury.

Worth noting

• Mozeliak said top prospect Oscar Taveras has reported to Jupiter, Fla., to begin his rehab work. Taveras underwent season-ending surgery on his ankle last month. He is expected to spend about half of the offseason in Florida and should have no limitations by the time Spring Training opens next February.

• With a win on Friday, the Cardinals clinched their first 90-win season under manager Mike Matheny. It is the 30th 90-win season in franchise history, a total that ranks behind only two National League teams -- the Giants (42) and the Dodgers (34).

• Friday's 10-inning game marked the 12th extra-inning contest for both the Cardinals and Brewers this season. No other NL team has played fewer. St. Louis is 6-6 in extra-inning games, but has won five of its last six.