Cardinals counting on playoff veteran Carpenter
BY HOWARD FENDRICH Associated Press
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
10/10/12 at 3:27 AM
WASHINGTON - The St. Louis Cardinals are counting on their returning ace, Chris Carpenter, who has pitched only 17 innings all year. in Wednesday afternoon's third game of the NL Division Series.
Carpenter will be facing Washington's Edwin Jackson in the first postseaason game in the nation's capital in 79 years. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1.
The 37-year-old Carpenter had surgery in July for a nerve problem that left his throwing arm and much of the right side of his body numb. He came back on Sept. 21, and is 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts.
"Everybody knows that it wasn't supposed to happen," Carpenter said about the prospect of pitching at all in 2012. "I put a lot of work into it, to hopefully have this opportunity. I didn't know if I was going to have this opportunity or not - and fortunately, I do."
He is 9-2 with a 3.05 ERA in the postseason for his career.
That includes going 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA last year while helping St. Louis win the World Series; he beat the Texas Rangers in Game 7 for the title.
"Him winning the World Series last year or whenever isn't going to do anything for him tomorrow," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "He's a great pitcher, and nobody's taking anything away from him in that aspect, but tomorrow we're going to go out there with our plan and try and do what we've done all year."
Which was good enough to own the best record in the major leagues at 98-64.
The Nationals' ace, Stephen Strasburg, played a key role up until his final start, a three-inning outing on Sept. 7. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA with 197 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings.
General manager Mike Rizzo made it clear all season that his prized right-hander's innings would be limited in his first full season back from Sept. 3, 2010, reconstructive elbow surgery.
"I bet the kid has to be going crazy, being in the situation where he is," said Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran, who hit two of his team's four homers Monday in Game 2. "He pitched all regular season, and right now he's not available for them."
The Nationals used playoff rookies Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in Games 1 and 2.
"The starting pitching, we showed a little inexperience there," manager Davey Johnson said. "I mean, not going right after hitters - and also not pitching."
Washington now needs to rebound from that 12-4 loss in Game 2 at St. Louis, although the Nationals prefer to focus on having taken one of their two road games at the outset of the series.
Going up against Carpenter will be his former teammate Jackson, the only starting pitcher on Washington's roster who had participated in a playoff game before this season. He was a member of the Cardinals' championship club in 2011, and his overall postseason mark is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA.
He went 10-11 this season, but Washington's record in Jackson's starts was only 12-19.
"It's high expectations on me. I have high expectations on myself, as well," the right-hander said. "This is one of those games where you go out and you try to lead by example."
That's certainly the sort of thing the Cardinals expect from Carpenter, whose mere presence on the diamond Wednesday is a big deal to his teammates.
"I saw that first hand, all the time he spent in the training room and weight room and getting back to the point, and you can't help but feed off that," said Cardinals center field John Jay.
NLDS: Series tied 1-1
Cardinals vs. Nationals
1. Washington 3, St. Louis 2
Nats come from behind in Game 1
2. St. Louis 12, Washington 4
Cards shell Jordan Zimmerman
3. 12:07 p.m. Wednesday, MLB-264
(Carpenter 0-2 vs. Jackson 10-11)
4. 3:07 p.m. Thursday, TBS-47
(Lohse 16-3 vs. Detwiler 10-8)
5. 7:37 p.m. Friday, TBS-47
x-if necessary, Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis 3-5 in Washington
Around the league
Game 3: San Francisco 2, Cincinnati 1 Cincinnati lead series 2-1
Game 3: Oakland 2, Detroit 0 Detroit leads series 2-1
Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter steps out of the dugout for batting practice at Nationals Park on Tuesday. Carpenter is scheduled to start Game 3 on Wednesday. ALEX BRANDON / Associated Press
Manager Mike Matheny and the Cardinals will face former St. Louis pitcher Edwin Jackson in Game 3. ALEX BRANDON / AP