Results tagged ‘ Chris Carpenter ’

Carpenter to pitch Game 2

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa dropped a bit of a surprise on reporters on Friday when he announced that right-hander Chris Carpenter will pitch Game 2 of his team’s National League Division Series against the Phillies. Carpenter will be starting on three days’ rest for the first time in his Major League career.

Kyle Lohse will pitch Game 1 on Saturday, followed by Carpenter on Sunday. Jaime Garcia will make his first Major League playoff appearance in Tuesday’s Game 3 in St. Louis. La Russa did not disclose a Game 4 starter, though it almost certainly be either Edwin Jackson or Jake Westbrook — and much more likely Jackson than Westbrook. La Russa said that both men would be on the playoff roster and available to pitch in relief in Games 1 and 2.

Carpenter pitched a shutout on 105 pitches on Wednesday as the Cardinals clinched their playoff spot.

“A lot depended on Wednesday, and he had a real good game,” La Russa said Friday. “He felt strong at the end, so we didn’t really announce anything because we wanted to wait to see how he felt yesterday, wanted to wait to see how he feels today. And if he would have come in with any kind of stiffness, we would have gone a different direction.”

By pitching Carpenter in Game 2, the Cardinals provide for the option to use him on regular rest in a potential Game 5 in Philadelphia. Carpenter is 5-2 in nine career postseason starts with a 2.93 ERA.

-M.

Monday tidbits: Lynn, Wainwright, and… a surprise?

Greetings from Houston, where it’s sweltering hot outside but comfortably air conditioned inside. It’s Star Wars Night at Minute Maid Park, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit curious to see how all that turns out.

Shameless plug: As of now, I’m scheduled to be back on MLB Network’s “The Rundown” again tomorrow afternoon. Subject to change, but looks likely. Usually it’s 2-3 segments between 2 and 4 p.m. CT, talking Cardinals.

As for the tidbits…

* Lance Lynn threw to hitters today for the first time since he was injured. He felt good and he looked pretty good from my seat in the press box.

However, it’s almost completely certain that this IS the endgame for Lynn. He can’t, by rule, be activated before the regular season ends, because he pitched on Aug. 9 and was placed on the 60-day disabled list.  He could, by RULE, be activated for the NLCS if the Cardinals got there. But from various people I talked to today, that’s about a zero percent chance. They’re happy he’s gotten this far, and the focus is on making sure he’s healthy for 2012.

* Adam Wainwright continues progressing. He threw 40 pitches off a mound today, estimating that he was throwing at about 75 miles per hour. He’s still only throwing fastballs, not even changeups — never mind breaking balls. So even more than Lynn, there’s just no way he’s going to throw any competitive innings this year.

* Though Jason Motte has pitched each of the past two days and four out of five, TLR said Motte should be available tonight.

* TLR said that Dave Duncan may fly down to Houston on Wednesday to make a brief visit to the team. It’s uncertain whether he would be around if the Cardinals play beyond Wednesday.

* At the end of his pregame session today, TLR was asked if there was any way his starting rotation plans for this series could changed. He allowed that there is one scenario where they might. Asked if that scenario is a GOOD scenario, he granted that it is.

Asked one more followup, whether that good scenario is one that we have seen before, he said, “no commento.”

So, in short: he’s not going to go into details until it’s a reality. BUT it does seem there’s a possibility that if the Cardinals gain ground on the Braves today and tomorrow, then Wednesday’s starter could change. That is, if they’re actually UP by a game going into Wednesday, it’s conceivable that Carpenter would be held back from that game.

Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense, and it’s what I’d do if I were in the manager’s shoes, IF that situation comes up. If you do it, and you still have to go to a one-game playoff, Carpenter is available to pitch that game. And IF they make the playoffs, it wouldn’t matter whether Carpenter’s last regular-season game was Wednesday or Thursday. Either way, he’d be available for Game 3, and no sooner.

Again, TLR didn’t lay this all out himself. But it’s not all that difficult to put the pieces together and figure it out.

And, finally, the playlist…

The Horrible Crowes, “Behold the Hurricane”
Buffalo Tom, “Paper Knife”
Jason Isbell, “We’ve Met”
Greg Allman, “Just Another Rider”
Manchester Orchestra, “Simple Math”

-M.

Cardinals on the… festivities

My friend and colleague Adam McCalvy has a blog post up with what the Brewers had to say tonight. And a little later at Cardinals.com and Brewers.com, there will be a longer story that covers the whole incident during the ninth inning tonight.

 

In the meantime, though, here are what the principal Cardinals had to say after the game:

 

TLR: “Rarely do I comment about another player, because it’s not appropriate. Milwaukee should comment about their players and we should comment about ours. But he [Nyjer Morgan] is having a good year for them, he’s a talented guy, but he’s close to the edge as far as creating problems and trouble. It takes away from the player that he’s been for them or wherever he’s been with his fuse being so short and actually looking for things to instigate. So I hope he gets a clue. And he probably is going to get upset, or somebody will, that I gave advice, but it’s the truth. It’s the truth. He could be the player he is without instigating.”

Carpenter: “I don’t know. I’m not going to go there. He’s a good player who plays with some serious talent. He just plays the game a different way.

(could you hear him talking?) “I didn’t know anything was going on until I heard Albert.”

(did you realize he’d thrown his chew at you?) “I didn’t see that until the replay.”

“I’m not concerned about it to be honest with you. … I’m not going to play his game. There’s a certain way to compete and a certain way not to compete. He competes hard but he does it in a different manner, which is unfortunate because it takes away from what kind of player he is. He is a really good player.”

(were you consciously staying out of it as the benches cleared?) “Well, the umpire came up and was like, ‘Don’t go in there.’ I didn’t really know what was going on, and then the umpire came in and was like, ‘Don’t go over there.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not going to waste my time with that.’ I’m just not going to waste my time with it.”

(was it hard to maintain or regain your focus?) “I was focused on what I was doing. I was focused on executing pitches and I’m not going to allow him to take me out of my game. He was yelling at me at second base. He was yelling at me down the line when he hit the double. The whole game he’s screaming and yelling, the whole game. I’m not going to allow it [getting distracted] to happen. I don’t know if that’s the way he plays, to try to get guys out of their game or what. But I’ve been around too long to allow that to happen, I can tell you that much.”

Pujols: “Last game of the series, of the season with those guys, we’ve been playing great [games] all year, and I have so much respect for those guys on the other side. They play the game hard every time and yeah, you’ve got about a month ago a couple of miscommunications, couple of guys getting hit by pitches, myself and Braun, but when that is over, you flip the page. I just got in the middle to make sure that Morgan didn’t jump on Carp. The last thing you want is our guy that’s trying a shutout game to lose his focus.

“I actually like that guy [Morgan]. I don’t mind having a guy like that on my team. He brings a lot of energy to the ballclub, and you want to have a guy like that. But sometimes I think he goes [a little overboard] and tries to put too much energy. I remember when he came up with Pittsburgh, the guy just played the game, played hard all the time, never talks. And now you wonder why he’s been on three different ballclubs the last year and a half, you know?”

(note: Pujols actually said “over the little board,” but obviously he meant “a little overboard.”)

(Carpenter said he was yelling all night) “Every time. every time. When he hit that double he was screaming. Yesterday he screamed, a couple days ago when he hit that… Which I don’t mind. Do whatever you want. But when you strike out like that and try to throw the chew the mound to our pitcher and yell, come on man. You need to be more professional than that.

“I’m nobody to judge, because I’ve made my mistakes sometimes so I’m not going to throw the first rock. Everybody’s got their own issues. all I have to worry about is myself, take care of myself. I don’t care what anybody else does in this game.”

-M.

Two late notes: Carpenter and Craig

Carpenter still set for Friday: Many fans asked today about the possibility of moving Carpenter back onto regular rest in the event that the Cardinals won the first two games of the series. TLR was asked about it before the game, but once they actually won, it obviously came up again postgame.

And, well, it’s not going to happen. Brandon Dickson is still the starter for the Thursday afternoon game (which, remember, has that odd 3:10 p.m. CT start time).

Here’s what the manager had to say:

“I mentioned it to my friends that that was going to be brought up. But when I put together the rotation, that Friday game with Cincinnati is huge for us. And he’s got Milwaukee on Wednesday, Carp does. That game tomorrow is really important. But so is the weekend against Cincinnati. So, no, nothing changes.”

Craig says he’s fine: Allen Craig did in fact bump his right knee, the same one he injured in Houston, against the outfield wall on Ryan Braun’s triple in the third inning. And he was, in fact, removed as a precaution when Jon Jay took over for him in center.

However, Craig said he’s got no problem with the knee, and he expects to be perfectly fine and playable on Thursday.

“It’s just a little irritated, but it should be all right,” he said. “I think it will be OK.”

Said TLR: “It was a good time to get him, but I thought he was limping a little bit. I was going to get him anyway with the lead like that, but when he went to bat, it looked to me like his leg gave a little. I asked him, and he said, ‘No, I’m all right.'”

Craig’s explanation was that he was testing his leg out, not that it had been injured.

-M.

Tuesday tidbits: Freese, Craig, Lohse and more – UPDATED

Greetings from a warm, sunny afternoon at Busch Stadium. Looking forward to a fun series.

* To address the single most-asked question I’ve gotten on Twitter in recent weeks, Allen Craig is at Busch Stadium today. He’s going to go through a good, thorough workout, and it’s possible he’ll be added to the roster tomorrow.

6 pm update: Craig came through his workout with no issues, and TLR made it sound extremely likely that he will in fact be activated tomorrow.

* David Freese is back in the lineup. He said he feels 100 percent normal, and that in fact the last test he really had to pass was on Sunday in Miami when he did some extensive running.

* The rotation for the next several days has been announced. It will be Jake Westbrook tomorrow and Chris Carpenter on Thursday against Milwaukee, pushing Kyle Lohse back to Friday against Colorado. Jaime Garcia will then go on Saturday against the Rockies, with Edwin Jackson getting the last game of the homestand.

* Today is the last day of Yadier Molina’s suspension. He’s slated to return to active duty tomorrow.

* TLR talked some more today about the question of “head games” and whatnot. I won’t try to summarize it here, but I’ll have something on it in my notebook on the site tonight.

And, finally, the playlist is a celebration of “Watch the Throne” and the two gentlemen behind it:

Jay-Z and Kanye West, “No Church in the Wild” (my favorite from “Watch the Throne” after a few listens)
Jay-Z, “The Ruler’s Back”
Kanye West, “Blame Game”
Jay-Z, “December 4″
Kanye West, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” (the Jay-Z remix, of course)

-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the Day, June 17

Note of the night:

I hesitate to make too much of good guy/bad guy, leader, set-an-example stuff. I think those of us who do what I do tend to use that stuff as a crutch far too often, and we write it in retrospect, using it to explain things rather than noting it in advance and getting any kind of predictive value.

It’s with that preface that I point this out.

I was really struck by how Chris Carpenter answered a question tonight about the error charged to Pujols. He was asked if he’d be happy taking his chances with that ball being hit to that spot again, and of course he said yes. But he really went further than that in talking about the expectations placed on Pujols.

“That ball was hit good.”

(you have no problem taking your chances with that ball being hit to him) “Not at all. He makes that play all kinds of different times. What’s come to be expected of him at times is… tough for him. I don’t know how to put it, but the expectation level is above all the rest.

“Is that ball a hit? Probably. That ball is hit hard. Takes a funny hop. But in the past, he’s so exceptional at what he does, they probably look at it like he should make that play. It’s a hit, to me.”

I dunno. Maybe not earth-shattering. But in being there, it was clear to me that it was important to Carpenter to make this point. It wasn’t just boilerplate, I’m not going to blame my teammate and be the bad guy stuff. It was a sincere point that he wanted to make sure got made.

Stat of the day: Carpenter’s strikeout to unintentional walk ratio is significantly better than it was last year. He has 78 strikeouts in 98 2/3 innings, a higher K rate than he had last year. He has 21 unintentional walks, a lower BB rate than he had last year. So his K/UIBB ratio is 3.71. Last year it was 3.03.

You want a reason to feel good about Carpenter going forward? That’s it. Guys with those kinds of peripherals get sorted out. He’s going to be fine. Heck, he was more than fine on Friday night. He was outstanding and unlucky.

And, finally, a late-night playlist:

Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks” (love this tune)
Foo Fighters, “Rope”
Freelance Whales, “Hannah”
Awolnation, “Sail”
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, “Belong”

-M.

Chess Match: Staying with the ace

The situation: Bottom of the fifth. Cardinals trail, 2-0. Daniel Descalso hits a one-out double, bringing the pitcher’s spot to the plate. Chris Carpenter has allowed two runs, one earned, over five innings on 89 pitches.

The decision: Carpenter stays in the game and hits for himself.

The outcome: Carpenter grounded to short, advancing the runner to third with two outs. After Ryan Theriot walked, Colby Rasmus flied out all the way to the wall in right field and the Cardinals did not score in the inning. Carpenter pitched the sixth, allowing a single but no runs, and was lifted after that.

The analysis: This, in my opinion, is a great situation to start Chess Match for the year, because there’s a ton of stuff packed into this one moment.

The arguments for pinch-hitting basically come down to two main points, I think.

One, the Cardinals hadn’t been scoring any runs, and I don’t just mean today. As you all saw, this team has been searching for offense all week. This was a chance to get on the board. You have David Freese and Jon Jay on the bench. Freese has extra-base or even home run potential, though right now it seems like maybe he’s a bit of a long shot for a base hit. Jay, meanwhile, seems like a good option to get a single against a right-handed pitcher.

Two, Carpenter had worked hard. He was pleased with his stuff, and said he felt strong. But he’d thrown 89 pitches, a large majority of them with runners on base, over just five innings. Eighty-nine pitches in five innings is a lot different from 89 pitches in seven or eight innings. It’s not that I expected him to crumble in the next inning or anything, but this was a different five innings, a different 89 pitches, than in some games.

Additionally, with an off day coming up tomorrow and most of the bullpen rested, getting through four innings with the ‘pen shouldn’t have been a big worry. Say you don’t score — it’s another opportunity, like on Saturday, to get Mitchell Boggs those innings that TLR has already said that he needs. If you do score, one, it’s a good problem to have, and two, there are enough pitchers out there to match up for 12 outs. I know some people are panicking about the bullpen, and if you really think they can’t get 12 outs, then you probably see this issue differently from me. But I’m not as worried as some are.

The primary argument against pinch-hitting, for me, is the fact of a short bench. With Matt Holliday unavailable, the Cardinals are playing with a four-man bench. You’re not going to use Gerald Laird or Tyler Greene there, so you really only have two options: Freese and Jay.

Freese, as mentioned above, can run into a homer, but he’s also slumping a bit to start the year. Correia was having a good game, and you don’t necessarily do him any favors by putting him in there. Tony La Russa also has a long history of preferring to save his biggest bench weapon, which on Wednesday Freese certainly was, for a later situation. Jay, meanwhile, might have been the best option to get the single that gets the Cards on the board, but using him is even more problematic. If you bring in Jay, you no longer have any outfielders available on your bench, and it’s the fifth inning.

For my money, that’s the strongest argument against: Jay is probably the best choice, and it’s a really tough spot to put yourself in to play four full innings with no available outfielders except Greene, who as you know is an infielder.

There’s also the simple fact that Carpenter is the ace, and La Russa as a general rule will almost always live and die with his horse. That seemed to be his main contention when I asked him after the game (see the quote below).

The comment: “I don’t even think it’s a close call. You’ve got a starting pitcher giving up nothing and you’re going to get him out in the fifth inning and pitch the bullpen four innings? I don’t even think it’s a close call. For me it wasn’t.” — TLR.

My verdict: The more I look at it, the less sure I am about my initial view. At the time, I really though the play was to get Carpenter out of there and play for the runs. But the matter of the short bench really is a significant one. Say you get the lead, and you want to play defense in right field. Well, you’ve already burned Jay.

But even so, I think in the end that the play is to go for the runs. And I think the play is Jay. You deal with getting through the innings with your bullpen, or playing defense in the outfield, when you get there. If you don’t get any runs, the game stays 2-0, none of the rest of it matters. Those are problems that you’re HOPING you have to deal with. And the way you make it so that you have to deal with them is by scoring some runs. I don’t think Freese is the play, early and against a right-hander. He’s the guy for when one swing can actually win or lose you the game.

I think what it comes down to is a strategic question rather than a tactical one. Play to score runs or play to avoid preventing more runs. When you’re down 2-0, the other guy is pitching a good game and you have 14 runs in six games, for me, the correct strategy is to play for the runs. It’s certainly not black and white, but I think it’s the way to go.

-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, March 31

Note of the night: As you may have heard, Albert Pujols had a bit of a rough one at the plate today. He hit a couple of balls harder than the results might show, but in the end, eight outs in a game is eight outs in a game. And that’s what Pujols had: 0-for-5 with three double plays.

 

He’s never before had a game with more than five hitless at-bats, and he’s never had an 0-for-5 with more than one double play. It was the 29th 0-for-5 of Pujols’ career. Only eight previous times had he even hit into two double plays. By my rough count, Pujols had never made more than six outs at the plate in a single game, and on Thursday he made eight.

 

As for the historical context, there was plenty. MLB Network reported that it’s the first time since double plays have been kept as a stat that a player grounded into three in an Opening Day game. According to STATS Inc., it was the 100th time in history that a player has grounded into three or more DPs in any game. Joe Torre has the only 4 GIDP game in history, on July 21, 1975.

 

“It’s a bad game, man,” Pujols said. “Am I going to shoot myself up? It’s just a bad game and that’s it. That’s the way it goes. That’s baseball.”

 

You’re probably going to read that quote several different ways tonight and tomorrow morning. The exact words he said were “shoot myself up,” but it was very clear in talking to him that he mixed a couple of expressions together, as all of us do sometimes. I think it’s the unfortunate combination of “Am I going to shoot myself?” and “Am I going to beat myself up?” Many of you may not care about this kind of minutiae, but those of us in the press box all talked about it quite a bit as we were walking back from the clubhouse.

 

* Note — a good deal of this research is courtesy of the amazing Baseball-Reference.com Play Index.

 

Stat of the day: Today’s stat of the day looks ahead, but I think it’s a cool one. I discovered it in putting together the “probable starter” blurb for Chris Carpenter’s next start.

 

The last 13 times Carpenter has faced the Pirates, the Cardinals have won the game. In those games, Carpenter is 10-0 with a 1.85 ERA. He’s racked up 97 1/3 innings, an average of 7.49 per start, with 88 strikeouts, 19 walks and five home runs allowed.

 

That’s pretty good.

 

G’night…

-M.

Wednesday Tigertown tidbits

Greetings from a really neat ballpark — Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. It’s been renovated, but it still has the classic field of an old ballpark. Cool place for a game.

* Chris Carpenter is on a flexible pitch count today. TLR said that if Carpenter is breezing along, he could go north of 60 pitches, maybe even 70. But he also allowed for the possibility that Carpenter might be really amped up and labor a bit, in which case he could come out quite a bit sooner than that.
* Kyle Lohse will start Saturday’s home game against the Marlins, with the starting pitcher for the other half of that split-squad day, at Kissimmee, to be determined. 
* Lance Berkman will hit left-handed against lefty Phil Coke in order to protect his sore left elbow.
* In a bit of a step from yesterday, TLR explicitly said what has been clear for a little while now: the only way that Kyle McClellan is not the fifth starter is if something happens to the relief corps.
Again, this isn’t a surprise. But after he didn’t explicitly acknowledge that yesterday, he did today. 
And now a playlist of road songs:
* Drive-By Truckers, “Where the Devil Don’t Stay”
* Bob Marley, “Waiting In Vain”
* Rolling Stones, “Ventilator Blues”
* Black Crowes, “My Morning Song”
* Audioslave, “I Am the Highway”
-M.

Tuesday lineup and tidbits

* According to TLR, Tyler Greene is still feeling quite ill and will not be in camp today.

* The manager also said that David Freese came out of Monday’s game just fine and will play again tomorrow. Sunday and Monday were the first games he played on consecutive days this spring.
* Chris Carpenter will be on a fairly generous pitch count tomorrow, at least as long as a typical second spring start and maybe longer — 50 or so pitches or perhaps a bit more.
* Tomorrow’s game will be the first one on FSN Midwest this spring.
Cardinals lineup vs ATL:
1. Theriot SS
2. Carpenter 3B
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman DH
6. Rasmus CF
7. Molina C
8. Schumaker 2B
9. Jay RF
McClellan P
Also scheduled to pitch: Batista, Boggs, King, Sanchez, Miller
Backup pitchers: Lynn, Kelly
And, finally, the playlist:
Rolling Stones, “Just My Imagination”
Elvis Costello, “I Can’t Stand Up”
R.E.M., “Superman”
Material Issue, “Kim The Waitress”
Dinosaur Jr., “Just Like Heaven”
-M.
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