Game 3 of NLCS shapes up as battle of aces
On the day he pitches, Chris Carpenter can be an ornery cuss. He
prowls the mound, barks at hitters, and on at least one occasion
has been known to invite a basepath collision.
Though just an 11-game winner for the St. Louis Cardinals, the
36-year-old right-hander has been in dominating mode since
midseason. Apparently in the Milwaukee Brewers’ heads, too, heading
into a matchup of aces in Game 3 of the NL championship series on
Wednesday night against 17-game winner Yovani Gallardo.
”Yo has been our best guy, he loves being in these
situations,” Brewers leadoff man Corey Hart said. ”It’s our guy
against their guy. Both are best guys.”
Carpenter mixed it up with volatile Nyjer Morgan in September
and was labeled a ”phony” by Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke prior
to the series.
Nothing phony about the results.
Carpenter shut down Milwaukee twice in September, allowing only
two runs in 17 innings to fuel an improbable drive for the NL
wild-card berth. He’s coming off a career signature moment, a
three-hit shutout against Roy Halladay that eliminated the favored
Phillies in the NL division series.
Carpenter has been clutch throughout his career in the
postseason, too, going 6-2 with a 2.94 ERA. He pushed aside his
friendship with Halladay for a 1-0 win in Game 5 of the NL division
series, and will do his best to not allow Brewers animosity to
So, sorry, no feud. Just getting ready for a big start.
You can probably forget about the rally squirrel, too. The
Cardinals are capitalizing on the craze, giving 40,000 rally towels
featuring a squirrel, but by Tuesday afternoon team officials had
caught four of the critters.
”Are we still talking about that?” St. Louis utilityman Allen
Craig said. ”People are laughing at us. We’re talking about
Carpenter dismisses Greinke’s assessment, too.
”He doesn’t know me, he’s never been a teammate of mine, he can
say what he wants,” Carpenter said.
”Every year, and every round of the playoffs, there’s
distractions all around,” he said. ”It can go from family stuff,
clubhouse stuff, opponents, friendships, whatever it is. If you
can’t eliminate that on your day, you’re going to have extra
The Brewers were on their best behavior Tuesday, skirting the
issue of bad blood.
Making a reference to Greinke’s battle with social anxiety
disorder, manager Ron Roenicke said the pitcher’s comments were
”no big deal” and told reporters, ”You guys know Zack, and you
know what he’s going to say when you ask questions.”
Morgan, who flung a wad of chewing tobacco at Carpenter in a
shouting match in early September and ridiculed the Cardinals on
Twitter, had nothing to say. He politely declined interview
requests before and after the Brewers’ workout, saying only
”There’s so much at stake, I don’t think either team wants to
get caught up in the drama,” Milwaukee star Ryan Braun said. ”It
makes a good story, it’s good for you guys.
”Both teams are three games away from the World Series, that’s
what they’re going to focus on.”
Gallardo needs to ignore a different sort of clutter – his utter
lack of success against the Cardinals.
The 25-year-old right-hander has been the Brewers’ only
consistent starter in the postseason, with an impressive 0.86 ERA
in 21 innings, and is coming off a strong finishing stretch. He
just can’t beat the Cardinals, saddled with a 1-7 career record and
5.66 ERA after losing to them in consecutive starts in early
”Well, I can’t explain it,” Gallardo said. ”I’m 1-7 against
these guys but I try to forget about those things. I mean, even if
goes the other way around, 7-1.”
Dueling Carpenter is plenty for him now.
”We all know what kind of pitcher he is. He has great stuff and
obviously he’s had great success,” Gallardo said. ”It should be a
pretty exciting game.
”I’m definitely going to have to bring my ‘A’ game.”
But lest anyone think the Cardinals own Gallardo, there’s this
nugget: In his lone victory in May in St. Louis, he took a no-hit
bid into the eighth.
The Cardinals knocked out Shaun Marcum in the fifth inning of a
12-3 blowout on Monday that evened the series at a game apiece.
It’s anticipated that Game 3 will be a much lower scoring affair
with oddsmakers placing the over-under at seven runs.
Roenicke is considering starting Carlos Gomez, a better
defensive player in center field than Morgan but not as dangerous
at the plate. Morgan is 3 for 20 in the postseason.
”We may make a change or two,” Roenicke said. ”I think we’ll
probably stay the same, but we’ll see.”
The biggest bat for Carpenter to avoid might be Rickie Weeks,
and not the Brewers’ big two of Braun and Prince Fielder. Weeks is
6 for 10 with three homers and six RBIs.
Albert Pujols has the Brewers’ full attention after a breakout
Game 2 in which he homered with three doubles and five RBIs.
”We have to make good pitches,” Roenicke said. ”We have to
make better pitches to him. We hope we get it to a better spot and
we hope he misses.”