GAME 156: The Mystifying Curse Of Bud Norris, Part 6
Following huge wins by Jaime Garcia and Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter took the mound intent on pitching himself past them and into the postseason rotation. While his previous start (his first of 2012) was shaky, Carpenter looked like his dominant, big-game self against the hapless Astros. In fact, he looked like the same guy who shutout the Astros last year to put the Cardinals into the playoffs. Unfortunately, Cardinal arch-nemesis Bud Norris matched Carp pitch-for-pitch, eventually outlasting him en route to a 2-0 Houston win and his sixth career win against us. Why Bud Norris??
PUT ME IN, COACH: One of the most unrelenting starters in the history of Cardinal baseball returned to his pre-injury form tonight. Carpenter carried a no-hitter into the fourth, where Jose Altuve temporarily spoiled the fun with a first-pitch home run. Still, Carpenter looked vastly improved over his previous start. Aside from a few errant pitches, Carp located his fastball well for the first few innings. I would’ve liked to see a few more effective curve balls in the later frames, but Carpenter had good life (91 mph) on his fastball. A very encouraging start from the big guy. Too bad the offense crapped out.
CUTOFF: Oh, Adron Chambers … what are you doing? With Justin Maxwell on second base in the fourth and Carpenter struggling, Brett Wallace laced a single into right field. Chambers came up throwing, and launched a moon shot over the entire infield and to the backstop. Missing cutoff man Daniel Descalso, Carpenter, Yadier Molina, and the first several rows behind home plate allowed Wallace to advance to second. Carpenter spun around and glared out at Chambers, who suddenly looked like a dog caught shitting on the carpet. If Chambers wants to get on the postseason roster, he needs to execute better than that.
FLASH OF ANGER: After several straight games of ineffectiveness, Matt Holliday finally hit a breaking point. After grounding out in the seventh, Holliday slammed his bat to the ground on his way to first base. I have no idea why Matheny doesn’t sit Holliday for a few games (tonight would’ve been good). Sure, we’re in a playoff rush, but Holliday isn’t helping the team in the third spot of this lineup while obviously hurting and/or struggling.
FAILURE: I’m not sure if Pete Kozma has a place on a Matheny team, because obviously any player on a Matheny team needs to be able to bunt. Kozma demonstrated his clueless bunting technique, looking as helpless as he did in a loss a week ago. Frustrating.
AGAIN AND AGAIN: How does this team manage to waste so many RBI opportunities? After Kozma utterly failed to bunt with runners on first and second (thanks to a hit-by-pitch and an error) and no outs, Carlos Beltran grounded out weakly as a pinch hitter and Jon Jay grounded sharply to short. END OF THREAT. These guys are maddening.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carp.
CONCLUSION: Combined with wins by the Brewers and the Dodgers, this loss lowers the Cardinals’ lead to 3.5 games with just six games remaining. Now is not the time to get overconfident. The Cardinals have two tough opponents in the Nationals and the Reds coming up. Let’s hope the off-day tomorrow recharges them for the final push.