Friday, October 24, 2014

October 24, 2006 - Carpenter Tames Tigers - Cards Take 2 Games to 1 World Series Lead

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - World Series - Game 3 at Busch Stadium III vs Detroit Tigers - Starting Pitchers:  Chris Carpenter vs Nate Robertson - Attendance:  46,513

Chris Carpenter blanked the Tigers on three hits through eight-innings, as the Cardinals brought home a crucial 5-0 Game Three win - to take a two games to one World Series lead.

Jim Edmonds' fourth-inning bases loaded double scored Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen to give Carpenter all the run support he would need.  However, thanks to the continued defensive ineptitude from the Tigers' pitching staff, the Cards got a few late-inning gift runs to win this one going away.

Already leading 2-0, the Cardinals scored a pair of seventh-inning runs without even putting a ball in play past the pitcher's mound.  Both David Eskstein and Preston Wilson walked to start the inning off the wild Joel Zumaya - who then coaxed Albert Pujols into hitting a nice little ground ball right back to the mound.

However, Zumaya's mind went blank.  Suddenly, he was standing on the pitcher's mound with a live ball in his hand and he didn't know what to do with it.  What he should have done - but apparently forgot - is turn around and fire a strike to second, where shortstop Carlos Guillen would be turning an easy double play.  Eckstein would be on third, but with two outs, that wouldn't be a problem, as long as he could retire the next guy.

In reality, what Zumaya did after fielding the ball, was panic - causing an ill-advised and very wild throw in the general direction of third base.  As the ball careened down the left field line into foul territory, both Eckstein and Wilson scored, as Pujols rambled into second with his little league "double".

Manager Jim Leyland thought this might be a good time to make a pitching change - and he made a wise choice - bringing in Jason Grilli - who actually got the necessary three outs without another run crossing the plate.

Unfortunately for Leyland and company, he brought in the wild Fernando Rodney to pitch the eighth-inning.  His first order of business was to walk So Taguchi.  After a successful sacrifice bunt by Carpenter, Fernando found the strike zone against Eckstein - but maybe too much of the strike zone - as the suddenly hot Cardinal shortstop singled to left - advancing Taguchi to third.

This time up, Pujols didn't even have to swing the bat in order to score a run.  All he had to do was stand there, then get out of the way of a wild pitch, before taking a couple of steps back to allow Taguchi to score.  With Eckstein now on second base, Rodney then plunked Pujols with a pitch - as a time-saving measure, since intentional walks require four time-consuming lobs out of the strike zone.

Fernando then induced Scott Rolen into hitting a grounder to third baseman Inge - who had been having quite an adventurous Fall Classic in the fielding department, himself - but this time, he knew what to do - stepping on the third base bag, then throwing a strike to first base to complete the double play.  Afterwards, an amazed Detroit pitching staff was asking Inge how he was able to make such a nice throw under such extreme pressure.

Apparently, scoring that fifth run changed LaRussa's mind-set regarding the need for Carpenter to pitch a complete game shutout.  After all, Carpenter was allowed to hit for himself - or rather, bunt for himself - but, he was removed from the game at the conclusion of that eighth-inning - before getting the opportunity join legends such as Gibson and Dean - among others - to throw complete game shutouts in a World Series.

It would've been nice, but LaRussa brought in Braden Looper to finish up, and he did his job - retiring all three batters to preserve the 5-0 win.

Most importantly, the Cardinals were winning - simply by playing good, sound fundamental baseball.  Of course, the Tigers were losing - by playing bad, unsound fundamental baseball.  This trend would continue for another two games.

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