Chris Carpenter couldn't have had a more efficient first inning of 2009, racking up the ground balls -- two to shortstop and one to first base. He needed only seven pitches.
That's a welcome trade from the first three games of the series when it seemed like the Cardinals pitchers labored while the Pirates hurlers effieciently mowed down the Redbirds batsmen.
He looked free and easy. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come.
The Cardinals hitters tried to start a two-out rally with Albert Pujols and Chris Duncan singling their way on base. Ryan Ludwick eventually struck out to end the threat. But not before the Birds forced the Pirates startes, Russ Ohlendorf, to throw about 30 pitches.
More of the same in the second from Carp. Two more easy grounders wrapped around a strikeout. They need to lock Todd Wellemeyer, Brad Thompson and Jason Motte in a room with this guy until something rubs off on them.
In the bottom of the second frame, Joe Thurston hit a tailor made double play ball to Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson to finish the second. Why no Freese today? In my opinion, Thurston is the 25th man on the roster, yet he is playing over a prized prospect.
In the third, the Cardinals are in trouble after the Pirates made an adjustment. The leadoff man worked the count and drew a walk. With one out, the pitcher bunted and Pujols got greedy trying to make the play at second. The throw was in the dirt, now there are runners at first and third with one out instead of a man at second with two dead.
...Another bad throw from Pujols trying to get the runner at the plate instead of the double play gives the Pirates not only a 1-0 lead but still only one out with two on. That's two errors and no hits in the inning. Fortunately Carpenter gets a whiff and another groundout to get out of the inning without any more damage.
Oh, joy. rain.
Carpenter has a wicked breaking ball going. He just threw one to Eric Hinske that looked like it was going to be a foot outside. It made a left turn and the umpire called it a strike.
Nyjer Morgan just made a nice running catch on a Chris Duncan foul ball. I am starting to hate that guy.
Carpenter is unblemished after five -- except for the walk. Let's get some runs boys!
Thurston preserved Carpenter's gym with a do or die play at third. He was in close but was positioned perfectly.
The Birds really need to do something to get Carp some runs. It's nuts that the guy has completely strangled the other team and his batters can't get a run or two for him... And hopefully soon, so he has a chance to get his first win since 2006.
The Cardinals penny pinching ways hose them again. Carpenter, who seems to be tiring after issuing his second walk, got a perfect double play grounder to second base and displaced outfielder Skip Schumaker couldn't turn the easist of twin killings. Sheesh.
A grounder past a diving Schumaker breaks up Carpenter's no hitter with two outs in the seventh. It's a shame. He ought to be sitting on the bench waiting for his turn to hit.
Ryan Ludwick hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning. Meanwhile, the bullpen is getting busy. It could be now or never to get Carp a win. And it could also be the only chance the Cardinals have to keep their ace from getting 6 2/3 no hit innings rewarded with a loss on his record...
Yadi Molina is a great clutch hitter, and I wanted to see him hit away with two on and no outs... even though he is a huge risk for a double play. But after squaring around a couple of times, he smacked one JUST past the second baseman to tie the game and get Carp off the hook... let's keep it going.
Barden singles to center to drive a run home and give Carpenter a chance to get the win. Still men on first and second with no one out... The Cardinals need to get at least one more here... What a bad break for David Freese, who just hit a ball right on the button but lined out to left. Molina, a very slow runner, had no chance to tag up and score.
Nice Job by Ryan Franklin ushering the lead to the ninth. but the Cardinals need to score another couple of runs to keep things uninteresting.
Dennys Reyes gets the save chance today. He gave up a hard grounder to Nate McLouth but shortstop Khalil Green made a nice diving play for the first out.