GAME 161: Clinching One Last Chance
One of the greatest pitchers in Cardinal history, Chris Carpenter, further cemented his legacy as he pitched a defiant, gutsy six inning start against the Reds. His record setting performance wasn’t enough, though, as the Cardinals’ offense went cold against Mat Latos. The Cardinals ended up losing the game 3-1, and their hopes for a clinch on game 161 were pinned on a Giants victory over the Dodgers. That happened more than two hours later in a 4-3 Giants victory. And that’s how the Cardinals won their Wonka Golden Ticket to a one game sudden-death showdown in Atlanta. Let’s see if the Cardinals will finally be willing to take control of their own destiny for once.
SPECIAL K: Eleven innings ago, Carpenter was testing out his arm in a “sneak peek” start against the Cubs. At that point, nobody expected more than Carpenter shaking off the rust of a year layoff. But Carpenter had other plans; he wasn’t giving up the role of ace just yet. He has since improved exponentially. Tonight’s brilliant start easily reminded me of Carpenter’s terrifying 1-0 win in the playoffs last year. Yes, he was just that good, even without a strong curve ball. Even better, Carpenter’s strikeout of Scott Rolen (one of SEVEN on the night) was his 1080th strikeout of his Cardinal career. That passes Bob Forsch for sole possession of third on the Cardinal list. He’s also within ten strikeouts of passing Dizzy Dean for second all-time. INCREDIBLE. So many factors have led to the Cards’ dominance over the last decade, but nobody other than Yadier Molina could be considered more important than Carp.
RARE WASTE: Jon Jay reached base two times and Holliday also had two hits. Usually that means that the Cardinals have racked up some runs. Unfortunately, their contributions were surrounded by hitless nights from Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig (a real rarity!). Sadly, the lack of offense doomed Carpenter to another start without adequate offense, forcing more late-game theatrics. This kind of sputtering won’t go well in a one-game playoff, will it?
ROSIE THE RIVETING: Rookie Trevor Rosenthal came into the game in the seventh to relieve Carp, and Rosie was spectacular. He struck out two of the three Reds he faced, including a blistering third-strike pitch to Joey Votto that was clocked at 100 mph. This kid is our future, and everything we’ve seen so far indicates that the future is bright, indeed.
CARDINAL NATION: You really must hand it to Cardinal fans. With the team down 3-1 in the seventh and Daniel Descalso at the plate, the crowds at Busch suddenly came thunderously alive. It was almost as if the fans were willing the Cardinals to fight back. It’s one of those special qualities that separate the real baseball towns from the poseurs.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carp, who appears very close to his Cy Young form. He just needs that curve to bite a bit more.
CONCLUSION: Once again the Cardinals, given a chance to take control of their own destiny, failed utterly. I do think they played a tough game tonight, so there aren’t any complaints about their will to win. However, this team so often feels limp when it should be juiced up. Anyway, they clinched thanks to the Dodgers loss, so I guess … yay?