(BaseballStL) – During just two games in 2014 playoffs, the Cardinals continue to receive dramatic moments from their third base position – this time coming off the bat of Matt Carpenter in the form of a game tying home run in the late inning.
For the majority of Saturday night’s game, the Redbirds were dominated by Zack Greinke. He allowed two hits in his seven innings of work. But Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly made the decision in the eighth to pull his starter.
“He was done,” Mattingly said, “When he came back out of that inning [the 7th], we talked. ‘Where are you at?’ And he goes, ‘I’m good through Carpenter, to Carpenter. So I knew where he was.”
Mattingly went with JP Howell out of the bullpen. Howell allowed a single to pinch hitter Oscar Taveras. One pitch later, one big hit as Carpenter took Howell deep over the right center wall to knot the game at two.
Unfortunately for the Redbirds, Pat Neshek gave up the game winning homer to Matt Kemp as the Cards fell 3-2.
However, the story of the first two playoff games has been the incredibly high offensive numbers put up from Carpenter after a regular season that saw some of his numbers decline. Carpenter’s doubles fell from 55 in 2013 to 33 this season. His average also fell a little over 40 points as well.
“Carpenter has really not had an up-and-down year,” his manager, Mike Matheny, defended Saturday night; “He’s had probably as many hard outs as anybody. He’s had a very consistent approach, continues to be just a nuisance at the plate.”
His nuisance has led to two homers in his eight at-bats in the series so far. He accounts for 12 of the Cardinals 30 total bases and he’s collected 6 RBI. He was also the catalyst Friday night’ comeback as the Redbirds came back to score 8 runs in the seventh inning as they finally took the lead on bases clearly double from Carpenter.
“People are trying to pitch him differently and he’s making adjustments and doing it well,” Matheny continued, “But he’s had a terrific year for us, again, and continues to amaze us with how he goes about every single at-bat.”
In Game 3, Carpenter will face southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu. Both of Carpenter’s homers have come against lefties, Howell and Clayton Kershaw, in the NLDS.