Four hours after they were scheduled to leave St. Louis, the Cardinals charter was still sitting on the runway.
Manager Mike Matheny, who along with Game 6 starter Michael Wacha was scheduled to do a conference call with the media at 5 p.m. Tuesday, was sitting on the runway at that point.
So they improvised while they waited for the issue to be resolved.
“We’ve been sitting on the plane here for a couple of hours with some mechanical difficulties,” Matheny said. “So they’re still continuing to work on our plane. There’s another plane en route in case they can’t get this one to where it needs to be. But right now everybody is just kind of waiting around and anticipating either this plane gets fixed or another one to show up so we can get on our way.”
Down 3-2 in a World Series that’s already seen its share of strange plot twists, the plane issues only added to the list.
Wacha, who hasn’t let much else affect him in the postseason, said the travel delay wouldn’t either.
“I mean, I wouldn’t be doing anything, really,” he said. “Just going to grab something to eat and then just hanging out in my hotel room, really. Nothing too crazy.”
Players found ways to kill time.
“Everyone is just watching movies,” Wacha said. “They’ve got dinner on here for us and stuff. Everyone is just walking around. Nobody is in a bad mood or anything like that. The attitude is pretty good.”
Matheny didn’t seem to think the travel setback would be a lingering distraction.
“Everybody seems to be doing all right,” Matheny said. “We’re fortunate that our club allows our families to travel with us. We have some younger kids, but I’m impressed with how everybody has handled it.
“Fortunately we have plenty of food, snacks for the kids, lots of entertainment with on-board movies, and everybody travels with all their high-tech stuff. Most of these kids are pretty happy that they’re not in school right now, and it’s a great way to spend a day, and no complaints so far.”
Searching for key
Matheny reworked his lineup, looking for ways to get a struggling offense to produce runs. He was considering all options.
The Cardinals are hitting .218 as a team, but Matheny said, regardless of what moves he makes, his hitters have to come through.
“We’re always looking to see where we can get a little spark,” Matheny said. “We’re not afraid to do something to stir it up. But, for the most part, we have to trust what we’ve done so far.
“The thing we haven’t been doing a lot of lately is just really sitting back and trust in ourselves. I think we’ve been pushing too hard trying to make things happen. That’s going to be part of what we do going forward.”
Matheny moved Carlos Beltran from the two-hole to the cleanup spot in Game 5 in hopes of getting him more at-bats with runners in scoring position, and said he’s weighing whether to stick with that strategy in Game 6.
“It could go either way,” Matheny said. “[We are] running through multiple lineups. Many of them just on paper, scratching all over the place. The staff and I sit down and put together what we think gives us the best opportunity, when it comes down to individual matchups with the pitchers, just how our lineup is looking, what do we need. We’re asking ourselves that all the time, every day.
“We realize that this game comes down to the guys performing, but we do have a responsibility to put them in a position to give our team the best chance of success. And Carlos is one of those guys that can fill a number of roles.
Craig bounces back
After playing in the field for the first time since returning from a foot injury that sidelined him for seven weeks, slugger Allen Craig will likely move back to DH on Wednesday. He went 0 for 3 in Game 5, grounding into a double play. He was tested immediately at first base when he had to dive for a David Ortiz double down the line. Matheny said Craig was doing fine physically. “I had a quick conversation with him,” Matheny said. “He said he felt good today. So that was a great response and what we wanted to hear.” . . . After going 0 for 3 with a strikeout in Game 5, Yadier Molina had his seven-game hit streak in World Series play come to an end.Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.