Note of the night: As TLR went through his postgame news conference on Sunday, fielding questions and singling out heroes, he responded to a question about his relief corps and started to add an answer to a question that hadn’t been asked yet. Then he decided to wait.
The next question was mine, about his starting pitcher on the afternoon. It turns out, that was the question that the manager was waiting for. What’s odd is that he was waiting to sing Chris Carpenter’s praises, when I was asking because I didn’t think Carpenter didn’t look sharp at all.
To my eye, and according to Gameday, Carpenter’s location just wasn’t very good. He was consistently in the top half of the strike zone, and that simply isn’t where he operates. That’s not Carpenter’s style. So it was strange to hear both manager and pitcher with such a different take.
“I really felt that the ball was coming out of his hand outstanding,” La Russa said. “He had a couple 0-2 misses and they capitalized. And their catcher takes the ball on the outside black and hits it out, that’s great hitting. He pitched around a couple errors. I really thought that Carp had good stuff and located, made a lot of pitches, kept us in the game.
“Overall, I really thought the ball was coming out of his hand very well.”
And here’s what Carpenter said, a comment I also noted in the game story: “Interesting enough, it really was the best I’ve felt all year. I made a couple bad pitches for the homers, but I felt like my stuff was good. I felt like my cutter was better. my command was better. it was a nice win for us and I was happy with the way I felt. … I felt like I was locating well.”
So, honestly, what do you do with that? If the Cardinals had lost the game, I was committed to a story all about how they need Carpenter and Wainwright more than ever, and Carpenter just didn’t have his command on Sunday. Would have been a tough story to write, given the quotes.
What did y’all think, then? Was he overall sharp and just hurt by a couple mistakes? Or was he missing his spots on a consistent basis?
This is one of the challenges all of us sometimes face. Our own observations sometimes clash with those of the players/coaches/managers. Sometimes I re-assess after hearing the comments. Sometimes I soften it a little bit, because someone’s comment casts something in a different light that I hadn’t thought of.
But sometimes, like today, I come back up and I still disagree. I just didn’t find Carpenter to have looked all that sharp. His velocity was good. His stuff was good. But his location did not look good.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals lead the league in bullpen ERA at 2.92 and are tied for the fewest blown saves with three.
Fun with double situational splits: Six of Albert Pujols’ eight home runs this year have come against right-handers on the road.
And, finally, the playlist:
Ride, “Vapour Trail”
Stone Roses, “I Wanna Be Adored”
Charlatans UK, “The Only One I Know”
Catherine Wheel, “Black Metallic”
Jesus and Mary Chain, “Just Like Honey”