Well I think I speak for everyone when I say that couldn't have gone any better.
I've been looking forward to Chris Carpenter's first start ever since it became clear his arm troubles were behind him this spring. Gone was the hesitation and the guarded, almost wistful, optimism the team (and he) put out during press conferences. Carp was throwing well during the spring, and although a concerted and correct effort was made to keep expectations realistic, it seemed he was back to his old self.
Carp's start was a topic of discussion during Wednesday's UCB radio show, and the consensus was 5-6 good innings would be great for his first one; anything beyond that was gravy.
Well, we're swimming in gravy today. Six and 2/3 no-hit ball? Are you kidding me?
In retrospect, I'm relieved he gave up that hit in the seventh. Think about it. This is Carpenter's first start since Sept of last year, and he's spent the better part of 2 years recovering from a variety of arm ailments. You know the Cardinals had him on a strict pitch count. However, LaRussa employs the warrior mentality; let his pitchers go out there and compete. I think it would have been very tough for him to pull Carp after seven, with his pitch count under 90 and a no-hitter going. Giving up the hit, and removing that drama from the game, made the decision to lift Carp much much easier. And it was the correct decision. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
That said, I was really glad the boys managed to push 2 runs across in the home half of the seventh, and set up Carp for the win. He certainly deserved the W based on the effort he gave. It also got AP off the hook for a rare throwing error that led to the Pirates' only run of the game.
An interesting sub-plot in this game is Reyes pitching the ninth. He retired the side in order. Since Motte had such difficulty in his first game, it begs the question if LaRussa will go with a closer by committee approach for a while. Franklin had only worked 2/3 of an inning going into yesterday, and 'protect the lead in the eighth' is his role, so that made sense. Reyes pitched on Tuesday in the blowout, so it may be a case of getting him some high leverage work. Or it could be as simple as McLouth and Hinske hit left handed, and LaRussa wanted to have Doumit hit from the right side (although career-wise all Doumit's power is from the right side, so to turn him around in a one-run game is an interesting decision). Doumit had never faced Reyes before yesterday.
So although I'd rather be 3-1, I'd certainly rather be 2-2 than 1-3.
Today the Houston Astros come to town for a 3-game set. Piniero vs Hampton today, then Wainwright vs Oswalt, and Lohse vs Wandy Rodriguez on Easter Sunday.
As we start the most important 3 days in the Christian calendar, a Happy Easter to you and yours. And remember, in less than 48 hours you can start doing all those things you've given up for the last 40 days. Just don't eat all 3 pounds of chocolate on Easter morning, ok? Let the kids have some of that dark chocolate bunny too...
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