Make no mistake about who the ace of the Cardinals staff is. His name? Chris Carpenter. That is not a sleight to Adam Wainwright. Waino has been awesome for us this year and so far this year, has been the more dominant of the two. He has a better ERA, more wins and more Ks (although to be fair, even in his best years, Carp tends to get the groundball out more than the strikeout), and is the leading favorite right now in the Cy Young vote.
So what makes Carp, “the ace?” Simple. He’s a stopper. Tonight, the Cardinals had their backs against the wall. They just suffered a five game losing streak, dropping them a season high 4 1/2 games behind the division leading Reds. We put hurler after hurler on the mound, most of whom pitched well. Very well, in fact. But a struggling offense was not able to help out. And any runs given up seemed to make it that much harder for the Redbirds to score.
And then Chris Carpenter strolls to the mound. I described him once in this very blog, as cold, methodic and calculating. He’s intense and knows how to pitch. And that’s why, although I might pick Wainwright over Carp, if I had one game to win, there’s nobody in the league I would pick over Carp, if I needed a guy to be a stopper. He’s proven time and time again that he is up to the task. Basically, it’s what I would call “clutch pitching.” If a hitter can constantly get hits when it counts, when runners are on, he gets a lot of attention as being a clutch hitter. Pitching doesn’t get the same notoriety, but I think a pitcher that gets wins at the right time—say when you’re team just had it’s longest losing streak of the season—that’s pretty clutch in my book.
Hopefully, this little debacle is now behind us and the Cardinals start cruising back to 1st place, where they belong. The Reds have already fallen behind LA 7-1. And while I would never count those feisty Reds out until the last pitch is thrown, things are definitely looking promising for us to gain a game in the standings. Beating the Giants, coupled with the Phillies loss to the Nats, means we also made up ground in the wild card race.
In other news, recent acquisition Pedro Feliz has gone 4 for 8 for the Cardinals so far. Obviously, it’s still quite early, but that’s a big plus right now. His defense is certainly not spectacular, but it’s adequate. He can field a routine ground ball, which is more than I can say for the efforts of Allen Craig or Felipe Lopez whenever they manned the hot corner.
Albert upped his hitting streak to 7 games, giving him a batting average of .414 for August. In fact, since July 30th, Albert has only not gotten a hit in one game. Yesterday, he hit his 8th home run this month, sitting just 2 away from the 400 milestone and giving him 1200 career RBI. I’ve heard some say he has “peaked,” but to me, he looks to have no signs of slowing down. I can’t wait to see where he ends up at the end of his career.