Cheap Seats

Lance Berkman out for season; Chris Carpenter on verge of activation

The Cardinals got news that they didn't want to hear Monday when a trip to his knee doctor confirmed that Lance Berkman requires additional surgery and is out for the rest of the 2012 season.

But it wasn't all bad news. Injured ace starting pitcher Chris Carpenter threw 70 pitches in a simulated game that impressed manager Mike Matheny enough for him to predict that Carpenter will be activated in about 10 days -- should he make it through one more simulated game without problems.

General Manager John Mozeliak said last week that the team wants Carpenter to throw 90 pitches in a simulated game before the team gives him the green light to join the starting rotation.

The loss of Berkman is a painful one because he is one of the undisputed leaders of the club. On the bright side, Chris Carpenter is the other.

The Cardinals are certainly less powerful at the plate without a healthy Berkman. But Allen Craig has basically replaced his production this season. Meanwhile the Cardinals are getting a lot of mileage out of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Matt Carpenter and a career offensive season from Yadier Molina. Carlos Beltran socked the ball at an MVP clip in the first half of the season but has been weak over the last month and a half. Hopefully his two-hit performance Sunday is a sign that he's starting to get things figured out.

Bottom line is the Cardinals need to win two of three games in San Diego and then at least split with the Dodgers if they want to have a reasonable chance of winning a wildcard berth. The Reds are playing the Pirates and, unless things turn around dramatically, Cincinnati will likely snuff out Pittsburgh's playoff hopes.

Berkman likely will finish his St. Louis stay with a .296 batting average, 33 homers and 101 RBIs in 176 games as a Cardinal.

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