The Wrap

The Cardinals offense keeps on keeping on, pounding out eight runs against the much ballyhooed-but-battered Nationals pitching staff, grabbing a 2-1 series lead. The third successive poor start from a rotation noted for its depth opens up the Strasburg can of worms once again. Which is foolish since even with Strasburg in the mix the Nats would still hand the ball to Gonzalez, Zimmerman, and Jackson no matter what.

His final line flatters Chris Carpenter, who wasn’t sharp but battled as one expects a grizzled warhorse to do. The Nationals put all kinds of runners on base but were simply unable to notch the situational hit they desperately needed. Just like the Cards in Game One, the Nats must take solace in their ability to get runners on and hope they can string a few together when it matters in their next game.

Game Four goes tomorrow with Ross Detwiller trying to extend the Nationals dream season by another day. Kyle Lohse takes the ball for the Cardinals in a similar situation to his previous outing: win and they go on. Should be a party.

Hit the jump for inning-by-inning recap and “analysis” and the Fangraphs game chart.


Do you have the balls to stop bunting, Mike? Huh, do ya? Manager Mike Matheny leads his Cardinals into what is sure to be a raucous Nats Park for Game three between his Cardinals and the upstart Nats. The Cardinals send Chris “Bigass Carp” Carpenter to the hill, former Opening Day and World Series Game 7 starter, a former Cy Young award winniner, a hero to millions and a certified playoff stud.

The Nationals send the rich man’s innings eater Edwin Jackson. Advantage: nobody. It’s the playoffs. Anything can happen!

Nats Park gets its coming out party! Playoff baseball is back in the Capital Area for the first time in eight decades, Bob Costas just informed us. He’s going to talk a lot today, isn’t he?

Ahhh, the pomp and circumstance of the playoffs!

Which Big Carp will we see on the mound today? The acknowledged ace of the staff, the man who started pretty much every big Cardinals playoffs game over the last decade? Does that idealized version of Chris Carpenter even exist any more? The pitcher who starts today for St. Louis made only three starts in 2012 after a shoulder procedure. His velocity was down as one might expect.

Does Mike Matheny have it in him to yank his horse (fish) if it is clear Carp doesn’t have it today? Can the Cardinals bullpen sustain another “Johnny Wholestaff” performance after working 7 innings on Monday?

For the Nationals, they send Edwin Jackson. A man brought in mostly to “soak up the innings” Stephen Strasburg wouldn’t end up pitching, he did exactly what Washington needed from him. His performance down the stretch left much to be desired, as he was hit hardest during his September starts, including a total meltdown against these very St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals offense takes a back seat to nobody. If their ace can give them enough innings, might they outlast free agent-to-be Edwin Jackson?


Same as it ever was. Rubber stamps on both sides.

Jay cf Werth rf
Beltran rf Harper cf
Holliday lf R.Zimmerman 3b
Craig 1b LaRoche 1b
Molina c Morse lf
Freese 3b Espinosa 2b
Descalso 2b Desmond ss
Kozma SS Suzuki c
Carpenter p Jackson p

Usage chart for both starters, courtesy of Brooks Baseball. (Carp’s player card/Jackson’s player card)

First Inning

Some early jitters from the Nationals as future national superstar Ian Desmond bobbles a routine grounder. No harm, no foul in the end. Jackson struggles with his command early, giving up a hard single to Matt Holliday and a double down the line to Allan Craig. Holliday was running hard on contact and scores after the ball gets stuck in the corner, eluding the normally stone-handed Mike Morse in left. An early lead for the Cards, 1-0.

The Nationals really make Chris Carpenter work in the first inning, getting into multiple deep counts in addition to putting two runners on base. Jayson Werth’s single up the middle and an error which put Ryan Zimmerman on base go for naught, other than making the Big Carp throw 25 pitches.

Bryce Harper opts to forgo the batting gloves today in favor of RED CONTACT LENSES designed to reduce glare on a sunny afternoon. It works in a way, as the young center fielder gives the ball a ride to right field, where Carlos Beltran calmly collects it in front of the warning track. An improvement over yesterday as he actually made contact this time!

Second Inning

The hits pour in for the Cardinals in the second. A double, a single ahead of Pete freaking Kozma’s first post-season home run put the Cards up 4-0! Not Edwin Jackson’s finest hour, punctuated by an opposite-field single by Chris Carpenter himself. Jackson really fighting his control/command. The pitch to Kozma looks bad when you see where it ended up and even worse when you see the catcher set up on the complete opposite of the plate.

The catcher’s target:

And the result, from the reverse angle. Wrong side of town, Edwin.

Me thinks Edwin Jackson isn’t very good. Not that he is a bad pitcher per se. He’s perfect if you need somebody to make 30 starts, the bulk of which come against the Mets or the Astros or whomever else. But in the playoffs? Against a stacked lineup like the Cardinals? Not my cup of tea but you gotta ride the horse who brung ya, or something equally folksy.

Blown call stands ready to loom large, as the notorious Jim Joyce calls Danny Espinosa out on a banger at first base after the Nats 2B attempted to bunt for a hit. With the bottom of the order due up, it probably wasn’t such a big deal. Edwin Jackson can swing the bat okay for a picture but come on, he’s still a pitcher. No blood for the Nats in the second inning.

Third Inning

A double play ball saves the labouring Edwin Jackson. Working very slowly but he escapes the third inning unscathed. Chris Carpenter ease into his early lead, setting down the first two in the Nats order via lazy fly balls – though one required a very nice running catch by good old Charlie Beltran. A bloop falls for the Nats but another lazy fly ends the frame.

Fourth Inning

Much better from Jackson, who looks sufficiently settled down. He’s going eight up and eight down (with a big assist to a double play) since giving up the single to Chris Carpenter. Not a moment too soon for Nats fans.

Carpenter works around an Ian Desmond double in the fourth. The pitcher’s spot is now due up first for Washington in the fifth inning, might Edwin Jackson’s day be coming to a close?

Fifth Inning!

So many mixed emotions for Cardinals fans. After Chris Carpenter — not exactly a known slugger — pounds an unexpected double off the wall in left, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny opts to BUNT with his leadoff hitter, giving up an out but moving the runner to third base. Why? Nobody really knows…well we do know, we just don’t like it.

The bunt does exactly nothing for the Cards, who cannot capitize even after Jackson walks Beltran on four pitches. Coincidental, I’m sure.

Roger Bernadina comes in to hit for Edwin Jackson, who was actually not bad after he gave up all the runs and the Cardinals gave him a bunch of free outs. The Cardinals threaten against Carpenter, loading the bases and continuing to drive up the pitch count but no dice: big Carp shuts the door.

Sixth Inning!

New pitcher into the game but the song remains the same. Craig Stammen is greeted by a succession of hits, the biggest being a David Freese double off the right field wall. Daniel Descalso cashes Yadier Molina with a sac fly, making it 5-0 Cardinals. The Cards elect to stay with Carpenter rather than killing the game off with a pinch hitter when the pitcher’s spot comes up with a runner on third base.

Ian Desmond opens the sixth with a base hit, opening the hindsight door just a crack. Two outs and Carp is nearly free before pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi singles to right, ending Carp’s afternoon. Flame thrower Trevor Rosenthal puts out the nascent fire in DC, coaxing a shallow pop out from Jayson Werth.

Seventh Inning!

Not exactly the type of shutdown inning you want from a reliever when down five runs. Christian Garcia intentionally walks the bases loaded then unintentionally walks in a run, making the score 6-0 CRADS. Trevor Rosenthal sticks around to set the Nats down in order.

The End

The top of the Cardinals order does it again, putting two more runs between them and the Nats. The top three in the Cardinals order — when not freaking bunting — have seven hits and a walk in 15 plate appearances. Good thing they bunted.

This game is all but over. Next update is the last unless something crazy happens. Crazy like Carlos Beltran.

Source: FanGraphs