The Redbirds had lost 6 straight but, with the reigning NL Cy Young award winner going to the hill, one had to like their chances. Surely Chris Carpenter could (a) end the streak, (b) save the team from themselves, (c) provide some comfort to an increasingly uneasy fan base.
No, not so much.
Despite a gutsy 7 inning, 122 pitch effort, Carp hung around just long enough to give up 2 2-run doubles and watch the Padres erase a 5-2 deficit enroute to a 7-5 victory.
But this isn't Carp's fault. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Tony the Idiot.
ITEM: Carp is pitching his heart out. He struggled to get out of the sixth, loading the bases with one out, before getting Padre shortstop Geoff Blum to hit into a force at home and 2B Jesse Barfield to fly out to right.
Seventh inning, more trouble. With two out and the bases loaded (again), Catcher Josh Bard doubles to right, driving in two and cutting the lead to 5-4. Chris is obviously gassed. The Idiot has waited too long to get Adam Wainwright up in the bullpen, so Carpenter has to stay out there to pitch to CF Cameron. His command is gone, the ball is all over the place. For someone who prides himself on match-ups, in a business where you have to think several hitters ahead to be ready, how is it possible the guy with 28 years managerial experience can't make a simple call to the bullpen and get someone up earlier? Carp got hung out to dry.
The Idiot did the same thing in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS, leaving an obviously gassed Carp in the game to give up a 3-R HR to Lance "The Berk" Berkman which gave Houston a 4-2 lead. AP bailed him out that night. No one bailed him out tonight.
ITEM: All, and I mean ALL, the pitches to Cameron were supposed to be off the outside corner. First pitch: over the heart of the plate. Second pitch: over the outside half of the plate (Carp is missing his spots by 2-3 feet. Did we mention this is the most pitches he's thrown in a game this year?). Third pitch: where he wanted it. Cameron takes a weak swing and hits the ball down the right field line. But AP can't get to it, and it rolls into the corner for the killer 2-run double.
Now, are ALL the Cardinals bench coaches retarded? You throw 3 pitches off the outside corner. WHERE did they expect Cameron to hit the ball based on that pitching strategy? WHY in GOD'S NAME is Pujols playing in the hole between first and second? WHY in GOD'S NAME is Encarnacion playing in RC field? They must have expected him to pull the ball - a rookie might, perhaps, if he had his head up his ass, but not an experienced major league hitter.
STL had to have this game. HAD TO. The Idiot should have managed it like that - everyone's available, be aggressive, get this win. He didn't.
Tomorrow we turn our lonely eyes to Jason Marquis, whose issues we've chronicled previously, against SD's #2 starter, Chris Young. Yep. Staring 8 straight right in the face. We won't have to worry about playing SF the day after the season ends; Houston will probably have already clinched by then.
(It's OK, Jimmy - you won't remember this tomorrow.)
15 minutes ago