Saint Louis Cardinals AT Philadelphia Phillies /Moneyline: PHI -195, STL +165 / Total: 7
It might be disheartening for an ordinary team to face the Phillies on the road in a decisive game 5, but the Cardinals have every reason to remain confident. They beat the Phillies 5-4 in game 2 in Philly and their 45 wins on the road during the regular season bode well for the underdog Cards, as well.
Even facing Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay should not concern the Cardinals. Despite losing game 1 against Halladay, they scored more runs in that loss than they did in either of their victories. Indeed, it wasn’t poor offense that cost them game 1, and they know if they can manage to play better defense and help Carpenter’s cause, that they can win this one. Moreover, they had Lohse on the mound in game 1.
Halladay and Carpenter are friends, and realize the talent in one another. Halladay said “you know how good Chris is…” Carpenter wasn’t so great last trip out though, lasting only three innings while giving up four runs. It’s asking a lot for the Cards to put up the kind of run support needed to pull off a victory in a situation like that. Prior to that meltdown, Carpenter had recorded quality starts (< 3 ER, 7+ IP) in four of his last five starts. He pitched 237 innings this year, though, so there are mild concerns that fatigue could play a role. His 1.26 WHIP this season speaks to his skills as a pitcher though, far more than his 11-9 record does.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said “It’s going to be as good as it gets….You can see each of those guys four times and they’ll give you something different all four times…Halladay is every bit as good as his record..but Carp is in that same category.”
Certainly, however, the pressure is more on Halladay, whose Phillies 102 win season would be a bold failure if they failed to advance past the opening round of the playoffs. Carpenter, at age 36, will not be under the same pressure, as the Cards are underdogs. As a former Cy Young winner, he will have little problem keeping his composure, especially if he can put his poor performance last time on the mound out of his mind, realizing that he has both good days and bad, and that the same applies to the Phillies offense, as it does to any team.
Since no one expected the Cards to even be in this series after trailing the Braves by as many as 10.5 games, players know that this opportunity could have never materialized at all. Albert Pujols, though, cautions fans and players that they “haven’t done anything yet.” Certainly a victory tonight will change that outlook, and the winner of tonight’s game can move forward with confidence, knowing that the toughest opponent will be out of the way, in one another.