After enjoying some All-Star Game inaction, Chris Carpenter pitched like one of the league’s best on Thursday. The Jekyll-and-Hyde routine continued, as "good Carp" — that is, circa 2005-6, emerged as the big Cardinal righty struck out only a modest share of the 27 batters he faced (six) and, more importantly, walked none. He did allow a solo home run to the Dodgers’ best hitter, Andre Ethier. But even that was with a lead and on a first-pitch: Credit Ethier for going up swinging after Carpenter had thrown first-pitch strikes to seven of the previous 11 Dodger hitters. Oddly enough, Carpenter didn’t miss a bat to a non-pitcher, though, until the sixth inning, when Matt Kemp went down on strikes, two of which were swinging. But one particular stat revealed that maybe it wasn’t the vintage Carpenter: He allowed 10 fly balls. So we’re reluctant to claim that he has regained his old form — the 2010 Carpenter is still very much a hybrid.
- Speaking of Kemp, he waved at four pitches during his final two at-bats, one of which was against Mitchell Boggs. The pitch? Cut fastballs, though Boggs brought his about eight-to-10 miles an hour faster than Carp.
- Albert Pujols had three hits, but his first-inning plate appearance left us wondering about his valor. Down 1-2, he pretended that Clayton Kershaw‘s bounced pitch hit his foot. Whether or not it did, the attempt is excusable and perhaps even laudable for a lesser hitter who is down in the count. But it was an odd move for the Great Pujols.
- We’re not as bothered by batters striking out as we once were or as some fans still are today. But Allen Craig‘s ability to adjust and put the ball in play on two-strike counts led to a couple of runs, whereas a strikeout would’ve left the team blank. He chopped into a run-scoring forceout in the first, and hit a sac fly in the fifth. There is still something to be said for situational hitting, specifically on two-strike counts against a pitcher who features a career 9.43 K/9.
- The Cardinals in general avoided strikeouts, as Kershaw only had one. Kershaw made it easier by not being able to find the plate; at one point, he had thrown 33 balls to 35 strikes.
- On the other hand, Brendan Ryan didn’t exhibit much discipline in his fourth-inning at-bat. With a 3-0 count, Ryan swung at a high-and-tight pitch and popped out to first base. It’s one thing to swing at that pitch when the guy is dealing or when you’ve got two strikes — it’s another to offer when you’re in the driver’s seat. Ryan has struggled at the plate this year with a .247 wOBA, and though he showed last year that he has the tools to hit (.324 wOBA), he’s going to wind up as simply another Adam Everett if he can’t discipline himself.
- We saw two more examples of Cardinal baserunners behaving badly: Matt Holliday took his arrival at second for granted on Craig’s forceout at third in the third inning and was tagged out. And in the fifth inning, Albert Pujols blatantly disregarded third-base coach Jose Oquendo’s stop sign as he rounded third on Holliday’s single to right. Pujols ultimately stopped about a third of the way down the line, but it was clear that Oquendo’s protestations had no effect and that he was going to do whatever he wanted. When Pujols bats or is on base, Oquendo should just sit down.
- The official scorer ruled the second of the Cardinals runs in the fourth inning as unearned. It was Aaron Miles, who had taken second on Kemp’s errant throw after singling. Miles, therefore, would’ve only been on first without the error when Felipe Lopez doubled with two outs. Miles might’ve scored, but the scorer relied on the "benefit of the doubt to the pitcher" explanation in rule 10.16(f):
Whenever a fielding error occurs, the pitcher shall be given the benefit of the doubt in determining to which bases any runners would have advanced had the fielding of the defensive team been errorless.
- Tony La Russa pinch hit for Colby Rasmus in the eighth with Randy Winn, a pointless decision. With a six-run lead, the benefit of Rasmus getting more experience facing lefthanded pitching outweighed any benefit of an additional baserunner.
- The Busch Stadium scoreboard display of the team’s lineups now highlight the batter due up for each team, a positive change.
- Los Angeles had four repeat-digit uniform numbers in their starting lineup: Manny Ramirez (99), Russell Martin (55), Blake DeWitt and Clayton Kershaw (22). The Cardinals have only two total on their active roster. Can you name them?
- Speaking of uniforms, Martin’s is confusing — his nameplate is "J. Martin," the J being the initial of his mother’s maiden name, which is one of Russell’s five legal names.
- Ramirez made headlines by returning from the DL last night, but he was a non-factor. More accurately, he was a negative factor for the Dodgers, flying out harmlessly three times and committing a Manny-like error, absentmindedly trying to field a hit to left. The Manny Show is a little bit like the Eagles, who toured in St. Louis earlier this summer: Once highly entertaining, but now overplayed.
- Whereas most outfielders gather in centerfield to kibitz during a mid-inning pitching change, Manny left Ethier and Kemp to discuss things by themselves last night. We suppose, though, that that didn’t mean Manny wasn’t having a conversation out there.