The former NL Cy Young Award winners match up for the first time Saturday night at Busch Stadium, where Lincecum hopes to continue his dominance of the Cardinals by handing them a sixth consecutive overall loss.
Lincecum (11-7, 3.62 ERA) and Carpenter (13-4, 2.95) have won three of the last five NL Cy Youngs, but the two-time reigning winner won’t be making it three in a row. Lincecum is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA this month
His last two outings have been particularly rough. The right-hander gave up six runs over four innings Aug. 10 in an 8-6 loss to the Cubs, then surrendered six runs in 3 2-3 innings of Sunday’s 8-2 defeat to San Diego.
“You get frustrated when things don’t go your way, or the way they have been,” Lincecum told the Giants’ official website. “You’ve just got to keep coming to the field every day and working with a purpose and knowing that it’s going to come back, and that’s pretty much what I’m trying to get to.”
Lincecum has been turning to video reviews and long discussions with pitching coach Dave Righetti to try to solve his problems, perhaps the greatest of which is the decline of his fastball velocity from the mid-90s to the high-80s.
“My fastball’s kind of all over the place right now,” Lincecum said. “Just getting that down-and-away fastball, that’s what I have to get back.”
He’s facing the right opponent to help him get back on track. Lincecum is 5-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts against the Cardinals (65-54), and has tossed 16 consecutive scoreless innings at Busch.
St. Louis could really use a breakout game at the plate as it continues to slide in the NL Central. It’s averaged 3.2 runs in five consecutive losses, including a 6-3 defeat in Friday’s series opener.
San Francisco (69-54) trails Philadelphia by one game in the wild-card race, while the Cardinals - who haven’t lost six straight since a seven-game slide Sept. 10-17, 2008 - fell three back. They trail Cincinnati by four games in the division.
“It’s not just our offense, we need to play better,” said Pujols, who hit his major league-high eighth homer in August. “There are lot of different things that we aren’t doing the right way, and you can’t win like that.
“There’s no tomorrow, we need to win games.”
Carpenter was 4-0 with a 1.79 ERA in his first six starts following the All-Star break, but was only average last Saturday against the Cubs. He gave up three runs and six hits - two homers - over six innings of a 3-2 loss.
“Mechanically I wasn’t as solid as I’ve been, so I’ll work on it and get ready to go again,” Carpenter told the Cardinals’ official website.