The St. Louis Cardinals squeaked their way into the postseason. They’ve done the same to get to the National League Championship Series.
In Game 5 of the National League Division Series, Chris Carpenter one-upped his good friend Roy Halladay, throwing a three-hit shutout in the Cardinals 1-0 victory over the Phillies. St. Louis will now take on their division rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers, in the NLCS.
Carpenter dazzled the Phillies, allowing just three hits over nine innings. He struck out just three, but induced 15 groundball outs in the win, the sixth of his career in the postseason. He allowed just one Phillie to reach third base and did not walk a batter.
It was a complete turnaround for the Cardinals ace from a rocky outing in Game 2; one in which he was pulled after only three innings – although his team did pull out a 5-4 win.
But in Game 5, it was all Carpenter from the get-go. Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa believes this is a game that will stand out for his pitcher and the fans.“I think he’ll remember this forever and so will the Cardinal fans, going into this game against Halladay and winning 1-0.”
Carpenter himself was in awe of the performances on both sides.
“First of all, it as an unbelievable night. First, Roy Halladayis probably at this time the best pitcher in the game, and we came out and were able to jump on him early and get a quick run, which was huge,” said Carpenter.
In the five-game series, Philadelphia actually outscored St. Louis 21-19. But over the final 20 innings, the Phillies managed just three total runs. Philadelphia’s offense was held without a run in 32 of their final 35 innings.
Halladay was the tough-luck loser, allowing just six hits on Friday night, while striking out seven in eight innings. His only blemish came in the opening inning.
Rafael Furcal started off Game 5 the same way he began Game 2 against Cliff Lee; with a triple to center field. Skip Schumaker then knocked him in with an RBI double down the right field line to put St. Louis ahead, 1-0. Schumaker would get thrown out by Chase Utley trying to advance to third base on a bloop hit by Albert Pujols. The first inning continued to be a bit of a mess as Pujols moved up on a wild pitch and Lance Berkman reached on catcher interference. Halladay got out of it by getting Matt Holliday to foul out and Yadier Molina to ground into a fielders choice.
After a 33 pitch first inning, Halladay would settle down in the second, throwing just nine. He would retire 19 of the next 22.
The Phillies did threaten in the fourth inning with runners on first and third with two outs, but could not capitalize. Raul Ibanez ended it with a fly out to the right field warning track. After that, more of the same – bad at-bats and very few hard-hit balls.
All told, Halladay tossed a career playoff-high 126 pitches. After a franchise-record 102 wins for the Phillies, a sullen Halladay said that falling short of the ultimate goal is not easy to take.
“It’s tough to describe. You know, you feel like it’s right there and we’ve got a chance to do it, and we came up short.”
Charlie Manuel reiterated that feeling. “I feel very empty. I feel like we’ve had support from our fans, and it’s kind of hard. I don’t really know what to say.
In what may have been his final game with the Phillies, impeding free agent Jimmy Rollins finished 0-for-4. It’s also likely the final game for Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge, among others.
Ryan Howard, who struck out to end the 2010 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, grounded out to second base to end the game and appeared to twist his left ankle. He was helped off the field by his teammates as the Cardinals celebrated in front of him. According to Comcast SportsNet it is a left achillies tendon injury, and an MRI has been scheduled. The severity of the injury will not be known until after the MRI.
Howard, who used crutches in the clubhouse, went 0-for-4 and did not have a hit over his final 15 at-bats in the series.
“I was trying to run and I just felt this pop,” Howard said. “The whole thing went numb, like it was on fire. They think it might be torn. I’m probably going to have to have surgery.”
Howard will again have another long offseason to think about the shortcoming in the playoffs that have killed him in back to back seasons. If it is a torn tendon, he could be out 6-12 months.
On the hill, it came down to Carpenter and Halladay, and it was Carpenter that helped his team slide into the next round of the playoffs after making into the postseason on the last day of the regular season.
For the Phillies, it came down to not hitting the ball and falling short once again. It’s a tough pill to swallow, to allow a 2-games-to-1 advantage slip away. But things like this can happen in a short series. And the fear of many came to fruition on Friday night. The Phillies – quite possibly the better team – we’re outdone by the hotter team.
In the clubhouse following the game, Halladay looked like a beaten, tired man, but did continue to talk about the future and how they’ll never stop fighting for a World Series title. Halladay began to get emotional and, of course, gave praise to the fans who have supported the Phillies all year.
“This is by far the greatest place I’ve ever played – and the greatest fans that I’ve ever been around. That was as loud as I’ve ever heard it here. It was really a special feeling to be out there and have the fans behind you like that. I was just trying to go pitch to pitch and do everything I could. But it was really electric; it was something I’ll never forget.”
The Doc gave it all he could on Friday night. And just like that a season of promise became another season of disappointment.