SAN FRANCISCO — A day before he took the mound in Game 2 of the NLCS, right-hander Chris Carpenter was asked if he believed in the baseball saying, "Momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher."
That's probably malarkey, the 37-year-old Carpenter said.
"We were going into Game 5 against Washington [in the NLDS] with our stud, Adam Wainwright, out there and nobody expected him to give up six runs in [2 1/3] innings," Carpenter said. "And we still won that game, so I'm not sure. There's no question that [starting pitching] might set the tone a little bit. But at this time of the year, everything matters. It doesn't matter who's starting; you need breaks, you need a little bit of luck and you need to go out and do things the right way. So, I don't buy into that, I don't think."
If he's right, then the St. Louis Cardinals can consider Carpenter's wisdom as they prepare for Game 3 on Wednesday — because Carpenter gave a poor performance in a 7-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, who evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1. Carpenter had pitched better in four starts, including one in the first round of the playoffs, since coming back from major surgery to repair nerve damage in his shoulder.
"It definitely didn't go in the direction that I wanted it to go, I can tell you that," Carpenter said. "I continue to get better as my starts have gone on, but tonight it was not there. I wasn't very sharp. My command of fastball was not very good."
He allowed five runs — two earned — and six hits along with a pair of walks over four innings. Angel Pagan led off the Giants first with a home run and Marco Scutaro cleared the bases with a three-run single in the fourth, coming with two outs. Earlier in the game, Scutaro was shaken up and injured his left hip on a hard slide by Matt Holliday, but he stayed in and turned in perhaps the key at-bat of the game.
Carpenter also ran into some bad luck with odd bounces and shaky defense by teammates. But he took responsibility for not being able to pitch out of the fourth-inning jam.
"It came to a point where I had an opportunity to make a pitch and get out of it and I didn't," Carpenter said. "Scutaro got me, and I needed to make a better pitch and I didn't do it.
"I was trying to go down and away with a fastball, and it ran back on the plate."
The Cardinals get to start fresh with right-hander Kyle Lohse on the mound, against Matt Cain, for Game 3. And, thinking back to what Carpenter said, there's no reason to think Carpenter's off night will affect how Lohse or his teammates go about their work.