GAME 36: Carpenter Whittles A Win
The Cardinals had to face their arch-nemesis Cubs without their secret weapon – Tony LaRussa. He saw a specialist about his swollen right eye on yesterday’s day off, and the revolting malady was diagnosed as shingles. The specialist ordered TLR to take a few days off and rest, which is like telling Josef Mengele to take a day off from performing surgery on Jewish twins. However, after shooting the specialist a five minute frown, TLR decided to listen to his advice.
While the Cards faced having a game without their fearless leader (Joe Pettini took his place), the Cubs apparently went into the game without any manager at all. What manager would bat Starlin Castro – the most exciting player on the Cubs’ roster – in the seventh spot?? It’s not like the 2011 Cubs are the 1927 Yankees. Yet there was Castro, defenseless and abandoned, at the bottom of the order. They almost deserved to lose on that alone.
Both teams came out slugging in the early innings as neither Carpenter and Zambrano were especially sharp. Carpenter especially looked spent (see below), and the Cubs threatened in the first four innings. I suppose it’s a testament to both starters that they left the game with so few runs on the board. After battling back and forth, the Cards finally took control of the game for good on a timely double by Daniel Descalso before the bullpen shut the door.
As is typical in games between these two friendly rivals, the adrenaline levels were just a little bit higher, and there were spectacular plays and bizarre occurrences. The Cards lost a run when the third base umpire ruled that Nick Punto left third base too soon on a sacrifice fly. They also got a run back when Cubs catcher Geovanny Soto dropped a throw from Fukadome that would’ve nailed Punto at the plate three innings later. Perhaps the most laughable moment came when Alfonso Soriano slipped and fell on his ass in left field as a hit by Nick Punto (that name again!) flew over his head for a triple. Just a typically weird Cards/Cubs game.
CARPENTER WITHOUT TOOLS: Carpenter struggled and gutted his way through the game, and that is to be admired. But the guy is simply not the same pitcher who mostly dominated the game through the mid-Zeroes. His fastball is slower. His pitches are mostly up. He’s afraid of throwing his curve. More than mechanics, Carpenter looks defeated on the mound. He looks like the life has gone out of him. I think he’s aged about ten years since last fall. Aging sucks.
ANTI-TLR: Pettini apparently decided to really stick it to TLR by NEVER taking a pitcher out under any circumstances. He hates TLR! How else can you explain the seventh inning? By that point, Carpenter had thrown approximately 1,725 pitches and had the aching look of the oldest dog in a puppy mill. The Cubs loaded the bases in the inning and started scoring runs – TAKE CARPENTER OUT. If Carpenter had gone into cardiac arrest on the mound, Pettini would stand on the first step and say, “Let’s not call the paramedics until he turns blue.”
Note to Pettini: If your starting pitcher is 36 years old, has had multiple surgeries on his pitching arm, has thrown a week’s worth of pitches in the seventh inning alone, and looks like he might throw up or cry, then you need to pull that pitcher. It’s just a little friendly advice, buddy. Now go away.
PUNTO WATCH: Our little fireplug had a busy night. He had a good-luck triple thanks to Soriano trying to field a fly ball from his ass. He also flied out with the bases loaded and a tie game. Fuckin’ Punto …
MR. CLUTCH: Under normal circumstances, Daniel Descalso couldn’t hit a baseball travelling across the plate if it had flashing lights, a siren, and was the size of a VW Beetle. But put some runners in scoring position, and Descalso transforms into Reggie Jackson. His head is still on the chopping block when Schumaker returns, but he’s at least (finally) making a case for himself.
TURN ON THE LIGHT: Was it my imagination, or did the playing field seem a little dim? How are they lighting that ivy-covered shitbox? With candelabras?? I know Wrigley Field was built sometime during the Roman Reconstruction, but perhaps they could rewire the place to be fitted for real light bulbs, and not Edison prototypes.
BATISTA EVERLASTING: Tonight marked Miguel Batista’s 100th appearance of the season. Congratulations, Miguel!