Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Big League Stew

In case of emergency, Cardinals use Carpenter — Matt Carpenter, that is

David Brown
Big League Stew

ST. LOUIS — If rookie Matt Carpenter happens to be unhappy with his representation, then teammate David Freese might be his best bet for an agent. Freese paid him a high compliment Wednesday night, probably the most meaningful platitude one player can give another.

"He's on the wrong team," Freese said. "This guy should be starting for somebody. He just works his tail off and it shows."

You hear that, GM John Mozeliak? Freese just more or less demanded that Carpenter be traded. Such a move could be in Carpenter's best personal interest someday, but the Cardinals might regret it, and they're probably not going to do it, considering what he has meant to the club this season, and especially in Game 3 of the NLCS.

[Y! Sports Fan Shop: Buy St. Louis Cardinals playoffs merchandise]

Called on to replace Carlos Beltran — simply the best hitter in postseason history — Carpenter connected for a go-ahead two-run home run against San Francisco's Matt Cain in the third inning that keyed a 3-1 victory for the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. They lead the best-of-seven series against the Giants 2-1 heading into Thursday night.

As soon as it became obvious that Beltran was injured with a sore left knee and couldn't play after his at-bat in the bottom of the first inning, the Cardinals dugout scrambled into fire-drill mode. Manager Mike Matheny pointed at Carpenter, who didn't freak out. He didn't have time. Plus, he grasps his role too well.

"It was definitely a surprise," Carpenter said. "I didn't even realize that Carlos had hurt himself and, next thing you know, Mike came up to me and told me to grab my glove and I was going into right field. Really there was no thought process. It just happened so quickly. I was really in the game before I had time to think about it.

"It's one of those things that you can't expect but still be ready for. And I think I was."

Matheny said Carpenter's home run was "obviously the difference-maker."

View gallery



"It's a pretty strong statement with the lineup we have that there are days when we know he's going to be an impact bat for us," Matheny said. "The fact that we've had different guys go down [with injuries] and he's able to step in no matter what we ask of him — those [kind of] players are invaluable to a club."

In the ninth inning, Carpenter had moved to first base and made a nice diving stop on a grounder by Marco Scutaro. Carpenter's versatility has allowed him to get 340 plate appearances and play five different positions — mostly third base, first and right field. (Third base, eh? Perhaps Freese is trying to eliminate the competition?) Carpenter doesn't look at it that way. He sees himself not as being blocked by other players — Freese, Beltran, Allen Craig — but instead as a spoke inside a wheel.

"As far as staying ready on the bench, that's the role I've had all season long," Carpenter said. "There's a routine that goes with that, with your pregame work and your B.P. and all those things that help you get ready. And then, when the game starts, you just try to stay locked in with what's happening, so stuff like this doesn't surprise you."

[Related: Giants' comeback hinges on Tim Lincecum's outing]

Carpenter hit .294/.365/.463 with six homers and 33 extra-base hits overall. Drafted from TCU in 2009, Carpenter's power is a new development at age 26. He credits working with hitting instructors Mark McGwire and John Mabry. (Carpenter calls them "coach Mabry and coach McGwire," as if he's still in college. Adorable. But also telling.)

Carpenter also came in 4 for 4 for his career against Cain, who threw a perfect game earlier this season and has helped win a World Series. But Matheny said Carpenter's brief-but-sterling credentials against Cain had little to do with why he played.

"People will talk about the sample size [being too small]," Matheny said. "But to me, Carpenter is a guy we try to get at-bats for whenever we can."

View gallery



His success against Cain certainly didn't breed overconfidence, Carpenter said.

"It seems like he's always ahead of me, like tonight — I was down 0-2 in the count, and I just like to grind out those at-bats and fight when I'm up there," Carpenter said. "I worked my way back to a 2-2 count. It was a slider that caught some of the plate and I put a good swing on it."

While allowing for Carpenter's ability, Cain said he did a poor job of taking advantage of Beltran being out of the lineup — specifically that he made a bad pitch against Carpenter.

Beltran, who has endured chronic knee pain for years, still could start Game 4 against right-hander Tim Lincecum. An MRI on Beltran's knee came back clean. But if he doesn't start — or if pretty much anyone else on the Cardinals has to be replaced — they are covered with Carpenter.

Love baseball? Enjoying the postseason?
Follow @AnswerDave@bigleaguestew@KevinKaduk on Twitter,
along with the BLS Facebook page!

More coverage on Yahoo! Sports:

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Dan Wetzel: Nike, Livestrong abandon Lance Armstrong at wrong time
Michael Silver: Andy Reid should resist benching Michel Vick
Derek Fisher could be a Los Angeles Laker again
omg!: Model unveils $2.5 million 'fantasy bra'

View Comments (62)

Recommended for You

  • Former CB Brian Baucham Sues USC and Lane Kiffin

    Former USC Trojans' cornerback Brian Baucham is suing the university and ex-coach Lane Kiffin, according to an Associated Press report. In the September 2012 game, Brian Baucham collapsed during the second half and was taken to the hospital by an ambulance. Baucham hadn't played in USC's previous…

    SB Nation
  • Mark Cuban made comments about the NFL six months ago and he was right

    Peter King of Sports Illustrated looks back at the comments from Maverick owner Mark Cuban about the future of the NFL. ESPN's Marc Stein has a great write up about the premiere of the Berlin Tall's new movie.

    SB Nation
  • Rumor Roundup (Sept. 23, 2014): Sting, Austin Aries, Cesaro and the future of the Bellas

    Speculating on the rumors surrounding pro wrestling is a favored pastime of many fans, perhaps second only to actually watching the matches. In this daily column, we take a look at the latest rumors being churned out by the pro wrestling rumor mill. None of this has been confirmed as legitimate…

    SB Nation
  • DeSean Jackson doesn't realize the Washington Redskins lost to the Eagles

    Apparently Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson did not realize his team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday. Yeah, Jackson scored, he taunted Eagles players and fans, and he got his 'revenge' on this play. Check the scoreboard, DeSean.

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    Washington34 - 37Philadelphia
    Game Recap
  • View

    Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti faces the media (11 photos)

    All of the parties involved in the Ray Rice elevator-assault scandal are being called to account for their actions, or inactions, and the Baltimore Ravens, Rice's now-former team, are now in the spotlight. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti held a press conference

    Yahoo Sports
    Sun, Sep 21
    Baltimore23 - 21Cleveland
    Game Recap
  • Marshawn Lynch gives rare interview, and it's great

    Lynch joined "The Barbershop" on 710 ESPN Monday night to talk about his foundation "Family First," this season with the Seahawks, and a little bit of everything else. If you listen to one thing today, make it this interview. A fun, interesting

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    Denver20 - 26Seattle
    Game Recap
  • Wayne Simmonds was ejected because his opponent was too slow

    Wayne Simmonds was kicked out of the third period against the Leafs on Monday night in the preseason opener. Korbinian Holzer of the Maple Leafs was really not alright with the above hit from Wayne Simmonds during the third period of the Flyers game against Toronto on Monday night. Simmonds gave…

    SB Nation
  • What's Your Definition of Success?

    Success means different things for different people, that’s why we’ve started “The Success Project”.

  • Report: Steelers signing James Harrison after losing Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones

    In order to bolster their linebacking depth, the Pittsburgh Steelers are signing former NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison. The Pittsburgh Steelers had a convincing 37-19 win over the Carolina Panther on Sunday, but it was costly. Jarvis Jones was placed on IR-Recall after suffering a…

    SB Nation
    Sun, Sep 21
    Tennessee7 - 33Cincinnati
    Game Recap
  • GIF: Brock Lesnar Curb Stomped by Seth Rollins at WWE Night of Champions 2014

    At some point or another it was decided that the finish to the Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena rematch at Night of Champions on Sept. 21, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee would feature a run-in from Seth Rollins. It was also decided that Lesnar, vulnerable thanks to Cena spamming finishers for the last 10…

    SB Nation
  • Gerald Wallace's contract is like a lottery ticket for the Boston Celtics

    Gerald Wallace was stoic last season. Wallace's three-year, $30.3 million contract was criticized by Celtics fans in a Bill Simmons piece published on Grantland. Eric in Springfield, Massachusetts: "Instead of a jersey number, could the Celtics convince Wallace to wear all the first-rounders we got…

    SB Nation
  • Undertaker rumors of poor health seemingly debunked by his wife, Michelle McCool

    Over the weekend, a weird rumor started making the rounds that Undertaker is in poor health or bad shape or whatever other term you want to use to signify someone is not doing well physically. The source for this was, apparently, Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst, who reportedly dedicated a song…

    SB Nation
  • Darnell Dockett has tickets for Cardinals fan getting in a brawl with 49ers fans

    Sunday was kind of a wild day at the 49ers-Cardinals game. Aside from just the loss, 49ers and Cardinals fans got into a nasty brawl in the stands. It's a really nasty fight, with quite a bit of blood on the ground as the fight wrapped up. It seemed

    SB Nation
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr. needs to own hypocrisy, treat his fighters like he treats himself

    The five members of the Nevada Athletic Commission would be well advised to do a search of the Internet and read Floyd Mayweather's own words from May 1, 2012, as they question him Tuesday. Chairman Francisco Aguilar ordered Mayweather, not only the world's best pound-for-pound boxer but the owner…

    Yahoo Sports
  • Man Told to Sell Lamborghini Golf Cart or Lose Wife

    RELATED: See photos of another great Lamborghini from 1999 – the Diablo GTR The 36-volt Lamborghini golf cart comes fitted with leather seats, which he confirms he will be sure to fart on as much as possible, as well an auxiliary charger, spare seat, manual, spare parts, and a headrest, which he…

  • Frank Gore almost speechless with disappointment following 49ers loss

    49ers running back Frank Gore met with the media after the 49ers Week 3 loss. San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore spoke with the media following Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and he was almost speechless. Gore was asked about his limited use (6 carries in the game).

    SB Nation
  • Gareth Bale kicks the ball at Luka Modric's face

    You know what hurts more than seeing Gareth Bale and Luka Modric scoring amazing goals and winning trophies like we always hoped they would do for Tottenham Hotspur? Watching them turn on each other. GARETH BALE KICKED THE BALL AT LUKA MODRIC'S

    SB Nation
  • View

    Photos of the day - September 21, 2014 (34 photos)

    The Independence Monument is silhouetted against fireworks during City Day celebrations in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Oakland Raiders linebacker Kaluka Maiava tackles New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman in the first half of an NFL game and a boy

    Yahoo News
    Sun, Sep 21
    Oakland9 - 16New England
    Game Recap
  • Manning exposed: Seahawks win, Richard Sherman continues his season of subdued dominance

    Not nearly as easy as the Super Bowl, Seattle ended up just being a little better at defense than Denver was. Going into the Seattle Seahawks game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, we had a very convenient frame of reference as far as what we might expect to see. After all, no other two teams…

    SB Nation
  • Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: Taking stock of the 3-0 teams

    We're down to three undefeated teams after just three weeks. And the three undefeateds are far from flawless. The Bengals are the best of the group. Their offense has been diverse, especially with quarterback Andy Dalton playing well and running back

    Shutdown Corner