Chris Carpenter has made one playoff appearance since St. Louis’ 2006 World Series championship, but he came up huge for the Cardinals down the stretch this year.
In a matchup of former Cy Young Award winners, Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies try to take a 2-0 lead in their NL division series as they face Carpenter and the visiting Cardinals on Sunday night.
Roy Halladay(notes) regrouped from a shaky start to throw eight innings of three-run ball in Philadelphia’s 11-6 victory in Game 1 on Saturday. The Phillies’ 1-6 hitters went 13 for 25, including homers from Ryan Howard(notes) and Raul Ibanez(notes), who combined to drive in seven runs.
Howard’s three-run shot came during a five-run sixth inning as the Phillies rallied.
“Well, it’s not good to be down 0-1, but when you’re the visiting team the goal is to try to win one of the two games here and then go back home and see what happens,” said St. Louis left fielder Lance Berkman(notes), who hit a three-run homer off Halladay in the first.
Doing that against Lee (17-8, 2.40 ERA), however, likely won’t be easy.
The left-hander led Philadelphia to the 2009 World Series before carrying Texas to last year’s Fall Classic. He has gone 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA while striking out 80 over 76 innings during the playoffs over the previous two seasons.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the World Series,” Lee said. “We still have a lot of business to take care of.”
Lee is 3-1 with a 1.48 ERA in four career starts versus St. Louis, the most recent a six-hitter in a 4-0 win at Busch Stadium on June 22. He went 8-1 with a 1.27 ERA in his last 11 outings this season.
Carpenter (11-9, 3.45) has also dominated opponents of late and was at his best when St. Louis needed him most Wednesday, helping the Cardinals clinch an improbable playoff berth in spectacular fashion. The right-hander, who went 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA over his last five starts, pitched his second shutout during that span and struck out a season-high 11 in an 8-0 victory at Houston.
“We feel like if one guy is going to get two starts potentially in a series, then it should be Chris,” manager Tony La Russa told the Cardinals’ official website. “That’s our best chance. We have confidence in everybody else, but Chris is our horse.”
Carpenter has gone 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last five starts against Philadelphia, though he’ll be starting on three days’ rest for the first time in his career.
“I’m excited about it to be honest with you. I don’t know if I’ve ever done it,” Carpenter said. “I feel good. I feel like the day in Houston the other day I didn’t work too hard, didn’t throw too many pitches and I’ve come out of it nicely.
“I think it’s on how I recover, not about my stuff. My stuff is fine. It’s about how you recover. I’ve been recovering great all year in between starts.”
Carpenter’s lone postseason appearance in the last four years came in Game 1 of the 2009 NLDS, when he yielded four runs and nine hits in five innings of a 5-3 loss at Los Angeles. He is 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA in five career road playoff starts.