As the 2016-17 offseason is winding down, some fans have been questioning the how mentally tough the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals are. The Redbird Daily’s own Clay Beyersdorfer spoke up on the topic during the winter meetings. When I think about the Cardinals I’ve seen play that truly brought a fiery edge to the team I can only picture one player, Chris Carpenter.
According to a tweet by MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, Carpenter will be involved in spring training this season as a guest instructor.
Upon hearing the news I decided to take this time to look at the top five moments of Carpenters career with the Cardinals.
#5 June 14th, 2005
This was the first chance that Carpenter had to pitch against his former team, the Toronto Blue Jays. He definitely made the most of it as he threw a complete game one-hitter.
Carpenter took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and only allowed two base runners in the game while striking out 10. He posted a game score of 94 which was the best of his career. A game like this just speaks to his fiery competitiveness, as we all know he was pitching this game with a little extra motivation.
#4 Game 7 of the 2011 World Series
This wasn’t a special game in Carpenter’s career statistics wise, but if anyone was going to follow what happened the night before in one of the greatest games to ever be played, it was Chris Carpenter.
The scenario played out perfectly for the Redbirds. Carpenter had already pitched games 1 and 5 of the World Series and he wasn’t likely to be able to make another start. But then, on the Wednesday that game six was supposed to be played, it rained. This pushed both games 6 and 7 back a day, allowing Carpenter to pitch a game 7 on three days rest.
Carp allowed two runs in the first inning against the Texas Rangers, but he settled in from there. He made it through 6 innings allowing just the two runs and the bullpen took it from there. The St. Louis Cardinals were world champions.
#3 Game 3 of the 2006 World Series
Making his World Series debut against the Detroit Tigers, Carpenter pitched an absolute gem. Needing only 82 pitches to get through 8 innings, he didn’t allow a single run while striking out six.
Carpenter gave up three hits but didn’t walk anyone. The most impressive part of this performance though, was that he pitched 8 innings, facing 26 batters, and not a single one of them worked him to a 3 ball count. Talk about going right after hitters.
#2 Game 162 of the 2011 season
After battling back from 10.5 games behind the Braves for the NL wild card spot the Cardinals and Braves entered the final day of the season tied. Carpenter made sure all that work they had put in to catch the Braves wasn’t going to be for nothing.
Facing the Houston Astros, Carpenter threw a complete game shutout while allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out 11.
The Cardinals made the playoffs that day and the rest is history.
#1 Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS
This should come as no surprise.
Carpenter faced off against his good friend and elite pitcher Roy Halladay in the winner take all game 5. The Cardinals entered this series as heavy underdogs as the Phillies were MLB’s best team in the regular season, winning 102 games. But with the series all knotted up at 2 games each and both teams sending their best pitcher to the mound, all bets were off.
After getting an early one run lead, Carpenter went to work. He threw a complete game shutout, allowing three hits and didn’t walk a single batter.
There’s no telling what Chris Carpenter’s career would have looked like if he had been able to avoid so many injuries. One thing is for sure though, Carpenter has provided me with some of the most memorable St. Louis Cardinals moments of my life.
Something that I don’t think will ever be forgotten when talking about Chris Carpenter is when he got furious at Brendan Ryan for having to switch his glove as Carp was ready to pitch. He even pulled him aside in between innings.
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