Mr. Baker, meet Mr. Carpenter, a.k.a. Mr. Clutch 2012.
For the second time in as many games, Matt Carpenter, who made the roster as a bench player, gave the Cardinals a win, this time in walk-off fashion against the Reds. Oh yeah, in his first at bat of the game … in the 10th inning. Cards win it 2-1 in their first extra inning game of the year.
I suppose this is where I invoke the “small sample size” rule in order to curb my enthusiasm about young Matt Carpenter’s swell start. But, I really am impressed with the way this kid is playing right now. I mean, when Lance Berkman was out for a few games, there were plenty of worried glances around Cardinal Nation. But “Mini-Carp” showed no fear. And after starting the night back on the bench, he made good on his bases-loaded, one-out opportunity to end Tuesday’s standoff, grabbing his 10th RBI in the process. That ties him for second, behind David Freese.
Most importantly, though, Cardinals win. With all these division games in the first month, every win is exceptionally important!
Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from Tuesday night’s battle.
Kyle Lohse. The guy is doin’ work. He finished the day with seven innings pitched, and no runs on four hits. That means through 20 1/3 innings, he’s given up two runs. How much of a relief will it be if he keeps this up?! Especially with Chris Carpenter out and Adam Wainwright still finding his way back to form, Lohse seems to be the go-to guy. *Knock on wood*
Carlos Beltran. When he’s on, he’s really, really on. And I’d say early on, he’s locked and loaded. He blasted his fourth home run of the year to put the Cardinals ahead early. That 1-0 lead would hold up until a few unfortunate bobbles allowed the Reds to score in the eighth inning.
Matt Carpenter is an obvious pick. But also, Tyler Greene. No, he didn’t have the chance to play defense or swing the bat. He just did what he does best — RUN! He replaced David Freese in the 10th inning and raced home to score the winning run on Matty Carp’s sac fly.
The eighth inning. Yeah. It was ugly.
First, Mike Matheny pulled Kyle Lohse in favor of Mitchell Boggs, despite Lohse’s pitch count only being at 90. Boggs did his job and got a ground ball from the first batter he faced. But, Daniel Descalso — typically a defensive genius — couldn’t get his glove on it, and it became a base hit.
Then, Boggs mishandled a bunt right back to him, and there were runners on first and second, nobody out.
Dirty Dan tried to make up for his earlier miscue by snagging a line drive by Brandon Phillips and then throwing out the runner at first (Wilson Valdez) for a double play. But Boggs couldn’t keep Zack Cozart from knocking in a run on a single that Carlos Beltran had a hard time handling in right field.
Boggs and Descalso were charged with errors in the inning.
Boy, was I glad when that inning was over.
Still, only one run scored. It could have been much worse.
It’s not easy to find the “ugly” in a walk-off win over the Reds. But there was this one little thing …
Team RISP: 0-for-9
They had their chances, to put it mildly. A couple of times the bases were loaded, including the bottom of the ninth with Matt Holliday at the plate. And yet, every time, Johnny Cueto and friends did just enough to stifle the threat (until that sac fly, of course!). With the lineup the Cards are putting out there, and the offense they’ve shown they can produce, leaving 14 runners on base is pretty ugly after all.
BUT, like I said, what’s important is the win! The Cardinals at 8-3 sit three games up in the NL Central, and, in fact, are the only team over .500 through the first two weeks.
Tonight, it’s Jaime Garcia vs Mat Latos as the Cards look to guarantee themselves another series win. Here’s hoping the bats come out to play a little more often this time around!