In one of the unlikeliest offensive performances this season, the Cardinals Cy Young candidate hit a grand slam off Cincinnati's Kip Wells(notes) in the second inning en route to a six RBI day during a 13-0 St. Louis victory. Not only was the slam the first home run of Carpenter's 12-year career, but it was also only the 88th grand slam hit by a pitcher in major league history.
A career .105 hitter, Carpenter added a two-run double in the fifth to match his previous career RBI total and the six RBIs marked only the sixth time since 1954 that a pitcher knocked in six or more runs in one game. (Tony Cloninger, who hit two grand slams in one game, holds the record with nine.)
Oh, and did we mention that Carpenter also pitched five scoreless innings with just three hits? If only fantasy baseball counted pitcher stats on days like today, right?
In celebration of this rare occurence, read below to find everything you've ever wanted to know (and then some) about grand slams hit by pitchers:
• Carpenter's bomb was the first pitcher slam since 2008, when Felix Hernandez(notes) (the first AL pitcher to hit a grand slam since the creation of the DH) and Jason Marquis both recorded one against the Mets. (Fun fact: Hernandez's came off Johan Santana(notes).)
• Carpenter is the best pitcher to hit a slam in several decades. Over the past 20 years, the previous history makers were such luminaries as Dontrelle Willis(notes), Robert Person, Denny Neagle (2), Shawn Estes(notes), Kevin Tapani, Kent Mercker(notes), Donovan Osborne, Jeff Juden, and Chris Hammond(notes).
• Juden, Hammond, and Neagle each hit one in 1995, setting a record for the most pitcher slams in a year. Prior to that, NL hurlers suffered a drought with no slams between 1987 and 1994. The AL's drought was even longer, of course, lasting from 1971 to 2008.
• Only six pitchers have two career grand slams — Dizzy Trout, Camilo Pascual, Bob Gibson, Rick Wise, Denny Neagle, and Tony Cloninger, who hit both of his on July 3, 1966. Schoolboy Rowe and Tommy Byrne each picked up a second grand slam while pinch hitting.
• Babe Ruth only hit one of his 16 slams as a pitcher.
• Carpenter isn't the greatest pitcher ever to hit a grand slam. Hall of Famer Steve Carlton hit one in 1984 and other HOFers like Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Red Ruffing, and Early Wynn all managed to clear the bases with one swing. Gibson is the only Hall of Famer with more than one.
• Since the formation of the American League and the start of baseball's modern era, the leagues were about even prior to the 1973 institution of the DH. NL pitchers hit 30, while AL pitchers hit 32. Since then, it's been all NL with the exception of King Felix. It's one offensive category that the NL will always dominate.
• Carpenter's slam was the 122nd grand slam hit in 2009 and the 26th home run hit by a pitcher. Chicago's Mark Buehrle(notes) and Boston's Josh Beckett(notes) were the only AL pitchers to homer this season.