Photo by Matt Slocum, Getty Images
It is Game 5 of the National League division series, live from Philadelphia, where Roy Halladay faces Chris Carpenter. Get updates, analysis, obscure humor and absolutely no Phillies bias whatsoever, right here at the Bats blog.
Bottom of the ninth: Chris Carpenter pitched a complete-game shutout, scattering three hits, to defeat the Phillies, 1-0, and win the National League division series.
Carpenter allowed no walks and recorded three strikeouts in a pitching duel against Roy Halladay, who allowed just one run on six hits through eight innings.
The Cardinals got the only run they needed on a first-inning triple by Rafael Furcal, followed by an RBI double by Skip Schumaker. Carpenter allowed just one extra-base hit in the victory, the first 1-0 complete game in the postseason since Jack Morris of the Twins beat the Braves, 1-0, in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
The Cardinals will face the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship Series, which starts on Sunday.
Top of the ninth: Ryan Madson pitching. He hacky-sacks the ball to Carlos Ruiz, who throws to first, for out one. Score that 1-2-3 if you are scoring at home. Of course, since I provided almost no scoring information so far, that information is really useless.
Daniel Descalso strikes out.
Twitter is somehow over capacity. How many Tweets can you generate about 6-3 groundouts? Maybe it is all the Brewers fans and their haiku.
Nick Punto strikes out.
If you are scoring at home and missed anything for the Phillies through the first eight innings, just score it a 6-3 groundout.
And so it goes.
Eighth inning: The Cardinals are attempting to manufacture runs. Chris Carpenter single. Low throw on a Rafael Furcal bunt by Carlos Ruiz. John Jay pinch-hits and sacrifices Carpenter and Furcal over. Intentional walk to Albert Pujols. Fans experiencing flulike symptoms. Halladay bears down and gets Lance Berkman to strike out. Halladay on Matt Holliday. Two balls, low. A called strike in nearly the same spot. Change-up, strike two. Fly out to left. Crisis thwarted.
These are two incredible pitchers. How did that Syracuse Skyhawks team manage to lose so many games?
Placido Polanco: 6-3 grounder.
Carlos Ruiz: 6-3 grounder, though this one was at least a heck of a play in the hole by Furcal. Watching Ruiz trying to run fast is like watching Roy Halladay bat.
Ross Gload, pinch-hitter: beats out a third-strike passed ball at first. This is what passes for Phillies offense.
And just when it felt like the Phillies had life: Jimmy Rollins, 4-3.
Seventh inning: David Freese gets a hit! On the same low-and-away pitch he had been hacking helplessly at all game! And he gets lifted for a pinch-runner! Oh, well, it was a heck of a cut on a pitch that gave him fits all night.
Ryan Howard flies out while well ahead in the count. For Howard, every moment is becoming another A-Rod moment.
Cliff Lee warming up. It reminds me of the “History of the World in Two Hours” special that aired on the History Channel last night. I was afraid to watch the end of it, because I thought the world would really end at the end of the special, everything having been summed up so neatly. That is a roundabout way of saying that time is rapidly running out for the Phillies, and whoever they pull from their bullpen may have to find a way to take a run off the board.
Sixth inning: What the heck was that Cardinals coach eating in the close-up of the dugout at the top of the inning? A Rice Krispie Treat? It did not look like a traditional energy bar: it was square and pale and looked suspiciously like the work of Mr. Snap, Mr. Crackle, and Mr. Pop, as we call them on the front page. There are hot dogs and Tastykakes in the press box if he needs something better, or so I am told. (If that was a Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet, never mind, but it appeared to lack icing.)
Three up, three down for the Cardinals. This game has been decided so far by the first two at-bats.
Over at MLB.com, there was a middle-inning Web advertisement for hockey. The 2011-2012 hockey season just started. The 2010-2011 hockey season ends in three weeks!
Chris Carpenter got four straight ground outs before Chase Utley’s seeing-eye single, which was nearly a ground out. Utley was then caught stealing; Nick Punto did a fine job applying the tag knowing that Utley would be taking the Franco Harris approach to base running.
Hunter Pence 4-3. Ground balls! Get your ground balls!
Fifth inning: Chris Carpenter career batting: 47 sacrifice hits, five double plays. Carpenter and Jimmy Rollins will give a clinic on running out routing grounders after the game in Philadelphia’s nearby F.D.R. Park.
Roy Halladay almost, sort of, beat out a dribbling bouncer to third.
Phillies fans know that the team was on a quest this year to win ball games by a 0-to-negative-1 score. As an exercise in mathematical purity, that is admirable, but as a plan for Game 5 of a best-of-five series, it is lacking. Chris Carpenter, meanwhile, is getting great location and enjoying the 6-3 ground outs.
Fourth inning: Matt Holliday fouls one off his foot, then chases a cutter well outside the strike zone.
Roy Halladay has settled down, despite one soft hit up the middle. David Freese is flailing tonight.
The chances of misspelling one of the Holliday-Halladay names in the next few innings remains near 100 percent. I probably already did it three times.
The kid eating cotton candy at 9:36 p.m. in the stands is going to be a lot of fun to deal with in about half an hour.
Chris Carpenter was baffling Chase Utley with curveballs until he plunked him with one.
The Utley take-out slide will get you wherever you are. He does it to shoppers in mall parking lots during the Christmas shopping season.
Nick Punto: great play on a line drive at second, helped, of course, by the Ryan Howard-Ted Williams shift.
Shane Victorino single. A wounded giraffe lumbers from first to third on the throw. Oops, Hunter Pence.
Raul Ibanez to the warning track. The pitchers’ duel continues.
Third inning: The fans are really bringing their A game tonight when it comes to snagging foul balls.
Roy Halladay beat Albert Pujols on the third inning at-bat. The best pitch was a 1-0 curveball that Pujols nearly swung on but broke over the plate.
Watching Roy Halladay bat is like watching Roger Waters dance.
Jimmy Rollins plans to stand around the batter’s box for a while and see if his grounder down the first base line is declared fair after the continental drift moves the stadium a few centimeters to the left.
Here’s a 1982 Brewers-Cardinals flashback for you: Game 4, Dave LaPoint versus Moose Haas, Brewers win, 7-5. Ken Oberkfell reaches base three times and scores twice for the Cardinals. This is my attempt to haunt the Cardinals with the rare “Oberkfell jinx.”
Second inning: The bottom of the Cardinals order went down so quickly that TBS barely had time to show a picture of a turtle and a squirrel watching Albert Pujols on television. Yet it managed to squeeze a little squirrel face time in. The squirrel may end up the interim head coach of the Rams by season’s end.
The chance of the Brewers hosting the Cardinals in a rematch of the 1982 World Series is making me flash back to adolescence. The return of the Beer Series? Time to dig out my huge collection of Ken Oberkfell paraphernalia.
In the bottom of the second, Shane Victorino hit a double to right: the first well-hit ball of the game for the Phillies.
Nick Punto and Albert Pujols need to work on calling each other off. There was almost a pupu platter for two on Raul Ibanez’s pop out.
Cardinals 1, Phillies 0, first inning: Shane Victorino: playing the bounces off the center-field wall at Citizens Bank Park every time like it’s the first time.
Chase Utley’s throw to third on Albert Pujols’ grounder was aggressive and dangerous. Skip Schumaker, thrown out on the play, would have scored on a wild pitch a few pitches later.
The television feed moved from TNT to TBS in the middle of the first, and good thing, because there are three children on the planet who have never seen Shrek. It actually appeared that there was a silly cartoon character cavorting about on TBS too … but it was Nyjer Morgan.
Schumaker, who made the first putout in the bottom of the first, started only one regular-season game in center field this year.
Chris Carpenter had great location on his breaking pitches in an easy, easy half-inning.
Pregame: The Phillies can hear them: the Braves, the Red Sox, and now the Yankees calling them from the subterranean depths with haunted, infernal voices.
“Join us! Join us!”
Ryan Howard can feel Alex Rodriguez clawing through the dirt and wrapping ghoulish, skeletal fingers around his knees. “Strike out! Fall flat! Disappoint everyone.”
The Phillies feel heavy weights sinking them deeper, deeper into the fetid earth. It is their $173 million payroll, the highest of any team left in the playoffs. “It is like Jacob Marley’s chains,” cants the ethereal voice of Theo Epstein. “They are greed, and high expectations. They lead only to despair!”
All of the East Coast is about to plunge into baseball darkness. The sport may soon return to its Midwestern roots. Soon, there will be big league teams in Louisville and Columbus again. If you build it in the Central Time Zone, they will come. The Phillies just have to heed the whispers of the undead. Is it the Call of Cthulhu? The Call of La Russa? Is there a difference?
In desperation, the Phillies toss a lasso around the only thing that can keep them from getting dragged into the Underworld: the long, storied history of successful, in-no-way disappointing Philadelphia sports teams. Yeah, that will work.
Down on the farm: As you know by now, Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter came through the Toronto Blue Jays system together. Back in 1997, for example, both were starters for the Syracuse SkyChiefs. The 22-year-old Carpenter was 4-9 with a 4.50 ERA. The 20-year-old Halladay was 7-10 with a 4.58 ERA.
Also on the roster: Shannon Stewart, who batted .346 with 26 stolen bases and was soon in the majors; Ruben Sierra, a 31-year-old former slugger then on the downside of what started as a Hall of Fame-caliber career; Omar Daal, who later became the Phillies’ staff ace during a particularly bleak period; and many other players of note.
The SkyChiefs, managed by Blue Jays legend Garth Iorg, finished 55-87, despite this impressive array of talent. But since talent development is the name of the game in the minors, it has to be considered a successful run.