Not too long ago, Chris Carpenter was hardly a safe bet to pitch again in the regular season, let alone make an appearance in an All-Star game.
He could very well do both this season.
Serious shoulder injuries forced Carpenter to miss more than half of the 2002 season and all of 2003. The 29-year-old right-hander, who played for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1997-02, came into this season with a career mark of 49-50 with a 5.36 ERA.
But things have been decidedly different this season as Carpenter has emerged as the Cardinals’ staff ace. St. Louis is 11-3 in Carpenter’s starts and has won 10 of the last 11 despite averaging only 4.5 runs per game, lowest in the rotation.
“Obviously that would be fun,” Carpenter said about possibly being picked for the All-Star game, “but my goal is just to help this team get to the playoffs.”
The Cardinals appear to be well on their way to securing a spot in the postseason. St. Louis, which has built a 4 1/2 -game lead atop the NL Central, has the best road record in the majors and has won 19 of its last 26 games overall.
“If you want to get to the postseason, you have to play well on the road,” second baseman Tony Womack said. “I don’t see any real explanation for it. You take it for what it’s worth and just go out and try to pound people, no matter where you are playing.”
Despite their sparkling road mark, the Cardinals are coming off a disheartening loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. Jeff Suppan carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but the Cardinals ended up losing 2-1. The loss also ended the Cardinals’ five-game overall winning streak.
The Pirates have won three straight for the first time since May 28-29.
Jack Wilson, who scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on Monday, leads the NL with 104 hits.