May 26, 2011, 4:51 PM EDT
It was pretty much a given that Scott Rolen would get Thursday off after playing all 19 innings in the Reds’ loss to the Phillies on Wednesday, so it was no surprise to see Miguel Cairo in the lineup for the series finale. What did turn some heads was that the 37-year-old Cairo not only filled in for Rolen defensively, but he took his spot in the batting order and hit cleanup for just the second time in his career.
And it turned out OK.
Cairo, who had started just one game in two weeks, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in the 10-4 loss to the Phillies. He had as many extra-base hits today as he did in his previous 70 at-bats this season.
Cairo’s other appearance in the cleanup spot came eight years ago for the Cardinals in a 2-1 loss to the Astros. Coincidently, he hit one spot ahead of Rolen in that game. With Albert Pujols out due to a sore hamstring and Jim Edmonds nursing a calf injury, manager Tony La Russa opted to bat Orlando Palmeiro third and Cairo fourth.
Of course, Cairo didn’t quite measure up to his counterpart, Lance Berkman, in that one. Nor could he have been expected to match bombs with Ryan Howard today. Cairo has averaged a homer every 110 at-bats during his career, and his career high for homers is six, established with the Yankees in 2004. Howard homers once every 13 at-bats.