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Almost lost in all the back-and-forth excitement Thursday night were injuries to several key players. Cruz strained his right groin and Mike Napoli twisted his left ankle, but both Rangers sluggers are in the Game 7 lineup.

Matt Holliday, however, was removed from the St. Louis roster with a bruised right wrist. Allen Craig starts in left field in place of Holliday.

La Russa also dropped slumping leadoff man Rafael Furcal to seventh in the lineup and Skip Schumaker to eighth. Second baseman Ryan Theriot is at the top of the order and Craig bats second in front of Pujols.

Holliday’s absence might not be such a terrible thing for the Cardinals at this stage.

Sure, it shortens their lineup. He’s a dangerous hitter and a legitimate All-Star. But he really struggled with his swing during the World Series (.158) and he hurt the Cardinals with his glove and on the bases in Game 6, too.

With Holliday out, Freese moves up to fifth in the lineup, perhaps providing better protection for Pujols and Berkman. Freese has been a clutch hitter throughout the postseason, never more so than Thursday night.

Speedy outfielder Adron Chambers, a rookie, replaced Holliday on the active roster. Fox sideline reporter Ken Rosenthal says Chambers was grabbing a bite to eat with his girlfriend at a TGI Friday’s when he saw the scroll on television saying he’d been added to the roster for Game 7. That’s how he found out.

Clear skies at Busch Stadium. The temperature is 51 degrees, with a little light wind.

All set to play ball.