Winning the Series is Easy When Your Blood is Up

Didn’t watch the game on TV, or listen to it on the radio; I monitored it on my iTouch.  Technology is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?  I was aware of the result, of course, and also some of the peaks and valleys of the game, but not of the context.  The game summary comes up, “Carpenter hit by pitch”.  It doesn’t say, ‘Carpenter hit on the left forearm by a pitch headed for his head in an 0-2 count’.  And it certainly doesn’t include photos like this one: 

Chris Carpenter examines where he was hit by an Edwin Jackson fastball, 21 Apr 10. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

 

Carp was pretty upset by the plunking, and rightly so.  Now Edwin Jackson has no reputation I’m aware of as a guy who hits people on purpose.  He’s hit 11 hitters in 3 years before last night’s game, and he’s only hit two in a game one other time (it was last year against another NL Central team, the Astros, interestingly enough).   The fact that Ryan Ludwick was drilled a night after hitting two home runs, and where the pitch was headed that hit Carpenter, are what make me question his motives.  

 

Carpenter went in hard at second to break up a double play, which led to a lot of words and posturing between players.  Fine.  In the bad old days, Carp would have taken care of business himself the next time Jackson stepped into the batters box, but the umpires felt the need to warn everyone they’d eject the next guy who threw at someone.  Now I don’t condone throwing at people on purpose…oh, heck, in this situation I sure do.  Best way to handle it:  Get ahead of Jackson 0-2 and then hit him right between the 3 and the 6.  Defend your guy and defend yourself.  Thanks to the blue, that wasn’t an option, and I respect Chris Carpenter not wanting to hurt his team by being tossed in the third inning. 

The whole episode made Carpenter more animated than normal, and according to Joe Strauss fired up the club.  The bullpen gave back the 2-run lead they were entrusted with, but an offensive explosion in the top of the ninth secured the win. 

The Cardinals have won their first 5 series in 2010 and sport the best record in the league.  This is the first time Tony LaRussa’s Cardinals have started a season winning the first 5 series.  Near as I can tell, the last time they started like this was 1994 – they went 1-1-1* in their opening series against Cincinnati, then won their next 4 series enroute to a 9-5 start.  They won the next series as well before splitting a 2-game set with Colorado and losing 2 of 3 in Houston. 

*That tie was an 8-8 game in Cincinnati, ended after 6 innings.  I don’t think they ever resumed or replayed that game, since 1994 ended with the strike in August.  A footnote to history. 

Chad Qualls got burned again by St Louis, giving up 3 ER in the ninth.  You think when Qualls has a nightmare, he’s surrounded by Cardinals, like this? 

 

I think my opinion of Qualls is colored by the 2004 NLCS, because he’s been surprisingly effective in his career against St Louis, at least through the end of the 2008 season (2.38 ERA, 1.118 WHIP, 2.25 K/BB).  He has struggled recently, Tuesday’s scoreless inning/save notwithstanding.  In his other 4 appearances vs the Cardinals since the start of the 2009 season, he’s allowed at least 1 ER (7 ER total in 3 1/3 innings).   I know that when I see him in the game I like the team’s chances of scoring against him. 

Cards are off today enroute to San Francisco.  They get to face another team coming off being swept at the hands of the Padres.  Garcia v Lincecum Friday, Wainwright/Zito Saturday, and Penny/Cain Sunday.  These two teams might score 6 runs between them the whole series.

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Filed under Cardinals recap, NL Central, St Louis Cardinals

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