Saturday, October 8, 2011

Carpenter shuts out Phillies 1-0 as Cardinals advance to NLCS!

By Kshell

In big playoff games especially elimination games you tend to have great hype heading into the contest. Then once in a while you have a game like this game where the game actually exceeds the hype. In today's game five elimination game which saw the Philadelphia Phillies who are the heavy favorites to win the World Series take on the St.Louis Cardinals who were left for the dead just two weeks ago. You saw two former Cy Young award pitchers in Roy Halladay for the Phillies take on Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals. Both aces and former teammates were terrific as they combined to pitch 17 innings allowing only one run. Carpenter won the matchup with a complete game three-hit shutout to advance the Cardinals. The Cardinals scored early in this contest and that was all the scoring they would need.

The first inning would begin like the last time Roy Halladay took the hill for the Phillies. With the Cardinals scoring right out of the gate then be shutdown for the next seven innings. Halladay gave up a leadoff triple to Rafael Furcal to start the game. Skip Schumaker followed that up with an RBI double scoring Furcal. The Cardinals with the first two batters of the game already had a 1-0 lead on Halladay. Pujols would ground into a fielders choice as the Phillies recorded the out on Schumaker who tried to go to third. Pujols then moved up on a wild pitch into scoring position. After a fielding error by the Phillies Halladay finally put the scoring threat away. He got Matt Holiday to fly out then had a ground out to end the inning. That was a shaky first inning for the Phillies ace who was fortunate to only allow one run.

This game was a great pitching duel between Halladay and Carpenter. Both pitchers would go back and forth throwing up zero's on the scoreboard. In the fourth inning the Philles finally had a rally against Carpenter. The inning began with Utley being hit by a pitch. Hunter Pence grounded into a fielders choice for the first out. Ryan Howard came up only to line out to right centerfield for the second out. Shane Victorino singled advancing Pence to third base. Raul Ibanez came up to plate against Carpenter hoping to at least tie the game up. Carpenter made a mistake pitch to Ibanez as he smashed the ball to deep right field. The ball hung high up in the air only to be caught by Berkman at the wall as the Cardinals continued to lead 1-0 after four innings.

The game continued to go scoreless as both teams aces brought their best stuff. The Phillies were running out of outs as they were trailing 1-0 heading into the top of the seventh inning. The Phillies had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh inning. Leading off the inning was their slugger Howard who Carpenter fell behind 3-0. Charlie Manuel decided to green light his slugger. Carpenter left a ball over the plate as Howard had a good swing on the ball. The ball was a line drive to right field for the first out. Carpenter would retire the next two batters with ease. Carpenter was set to leadoff the eighth inning which left Tony LaRussa with a tough decision to make. With the Cardinals already up 1-0 so technically they don't have to score anymore LaRussa would stick with his ace and let him hit the in the eighth inning.

In the top half of the eighth inning the Cardinals had a chance to put Halladay and the Phillies away. Carpenter facing his old friend Halladay would actually single to lead off the eighth inning. Furcal tried to bunt and was safe on an error by the Phillies catcher. After a bunt and then Halladay intentionally walked Albert Pujols to face Lance Berkman. The Phillies were down just 1-0 but the Cardinals had the bases loaded with one out. Halladay would show why he is one of the games best pitchers. Halladay went after Berkman with cutters and changup's. On a 2-2 count he busted Berkman inside with a 90 mile per hour cutter for a huge second out for the strikeout. Halladay wasn't out of the jam yet as he still had to face Matt Holliday. Halladay would fall behind in the count 2-0 on Holliday but battled back to pound two more strikes. Then Holliday almost quieted the crowd as he belted the ball to deep left field. Holliday hit it at the end of the bat as Ibanez made the catch in left to keep the game at 1-0. For Halladay who was coming up to bat knew his night was over. Halladay who gave up a run in the first two batters settled down to allow no more runs like he did during game one. His fishing partner Carpenter was pitching so well that Halladay was on the hook for the loss 1-0.

After retiring the Phillies in the eighth inning instead of going to his closer the Cardinals turned to Carpenter to finish the Phillies. Carpenter retired Utley to start off the ninth. Then Pence was robbed of a base hit which set it all up for Howard. Carpenter would finish the Phillies season as Howard grounded out to first base. Howard on the play possibly hurt his MCL and will be evaluated later. The mighty Phillies were eliminated in the first round which was a stunning upset. The Phillies losing pitcher was Halladay who went eight innings, allowed six hits, one run and struck out seven. He was outshined by Carpenter who pitched nine innings, gave up just three hits while striking out three in a 1-0 shutout victory. For the Cardinals who were left for the dead  just two weeks ago to eliminate the "Dream Team" that was huge.

In conclusion, the baseball playoffs had our first stunning upset in years. The Phillies who had four aces were eliminated in the first round. Meanwhile the Cardinals will face off against the Brewers in the NLCS in a battle of the NL central. The Cardinanls led by LaRussa are back in the hunt for yet another championship. This was an incredible first round of playoff baseball. Hopefully the league championship series can follow this up. The Cardinals a team nobody was even talking about just two weeks ago are suddenly just four wins away from the World Series.

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