Last October, Carpenter was still recovering from a nerve problem in his right biceps, an ailment that cost him a chance to pitch in the first two rounds of the playoffs. He was throwing in the bullpen and lobbying to be added to the World Series roster but manager Tony La Russa decided against it, fearing that Carpenter would extend himself physically and emotionally pitching against his boyhood team.
Carpenter, 8-3 and one of the top pitchers in the league, will face the Red Sox on Wednesday after RHPs Matt Morris and Jeff Suppan, both of whom lost in the World Series last year, pitch the first two games.
The Cardinals still will not have 3B Scott Rolen available, so they will be about even with last year when Rolen went hitless in the Series. Rolen, out a month with a sprained left shoulder, has been cleared to perform some baseball activities and perhaps could be ready to play in another week or 10 days.
Pitchers will have to hit in this series but the Cardinals won't be able to fully utilize their best-hitting pitcher, RHP Jason Marquis, who started Saturday in Houston and was 3-for-3, raising his average to .375 with 20 total bases on 12 hits. Marquis could pinch-hit, though. He is 1-for-3 as a pinch hitter this season.
--RHP Chris Carpenter's aggressive style of pitching against a normally right-handed-dominant Houston lineup had been successful before in Minute Maid Park, and Friday night was no exception.
Carpenter worked eight scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over the punchless Astros.
At the plate, Carpenter, who had just one hit in 26 at-bats, also had a single and scored the first run after he had hit into a fielder's choice.
With RF Larry Walker still nursing a sprained ankle, CF Jim Edmonds, who also had an ankle sprain, decided he would try to play against LHP Andy Pettitte. Edmonds had been only 1 for 25 against Pettitte, but he doubled in Carpenter with the first run in the third.
"Wherever he ate before the game, he should eat there tomorrow," said RHP Julian Tavarez.
Tavarez was working his fourth game in five days, but his arm bounces back faster than that of Isringhausen, who had pitched in three games in four days.
--RHP Chris Carpenter made the pitch of the game to CF Willy Taveras with a suicide squeeze on in the Astros' fifth Friday. The pitch was so low that Taveras pulled his bat back, not thinking he could reach it, and C Brad Ausmus was run down between third and home.
This play pushed the slow-running Pettitte to second and the Astros have been so desperate for runs that they waved home Pettitte on Taveras' blooper to right. RF So Taguchi easily threw out Pettitte at home to end the inning.
--The Cardinals bullpen had been rated the top bullpen in the major leagues, according to the Rolaids compilations. But RHP Jason Isringhausen, being used for the third time in the four-game series at Colorado, had his first bad day of the season after the rest of the bullpen had knocked off three scoreless innings Thursday.
Isringhausen, hesitant to throw his curveball because he says it doesn't break in the mile-high air, stuck with fastballs and cutters and retired none of the five hitters he faced in the ninth as he blew his first save of the season. The Cardinals lost to the Rockies, 8-7, in a game twice delayed by rain.
The Cardinals had been dominating the slumping Helton, who stepped to the plate 1-for-12 in the series, by getting him to foul off pitches inside and then working him away. But Isringhausen left a low fastball in the hitting zone on a full-count pitch and Helton tied the game with a two-run single.
Ultimately, LHP Randy Flores walked in the winning run, but the loss was Isringhausen's as he missed his first save in the last 21 dating to last August. He had been 16-for-16 this season.
It appeared the Cardinals would take the series three games to one prior to Izzy's meltdown, as manager Tony LaRussa got maximum mileage from his bench. 3B Scott Seabol singled in two runs and reached base three times, SS Abraham Nunez was on four times and C Einar Diaz singled in two runs.
--2B Mark Grudzielanek had four hits for the second time this season, but the defense of SS David Eckstein was as important as anything else Wednesday night as the Cardinals outlasted the Colorado Rockies 8-6.
Eckstein, criticized for making eight errors in a three-week span, made two spectacular defensive plays.
On the first, he sprinted into foul territory and dived to snatch a third-inning popup hit by RF Brad Hawpe.
The more important play was a diving stop to his left on a smash hit by Rockies 3B Clint Atkins with a man on and one out in the sixth. Eckstein flipped to Grudzielanek, who barehanded the ball and tossed to first for the inning-ending double play.
--RHP Jason Marquis, a rotation pitcher, pinch-hit a single in the two-run seventh Wednesday and scored the final run of the game.
--Manager Tony La Russa attempted to give CF Jim Edmonds and RF Larry Walker a night off Wednesday but had to use both as pinch hitters to pull out the win. Walker, however, is still laboring with a sprained left ankle, and his average has dropped into the .250s. A .383 hitter at Coors Field for his career, he is nothing for five in the series.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8-10 -- The Cardinals' record against the Boston Red Sox in three World Series. They won the first two Series, four games to three.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Second greatest catch by a shortstop in Cardinals history." -- Manager Tony La Russa, deferring to Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith at No. 1, praising SS David Eckstein's diving snag of a foul fly in Colorado.
ROTATION: 1. LHP Mark Mulder 2. RHP Chris Carpenter 3. RHP Jason Marquis 4. RHP Jeff Suppan 5. RHP Matt Morris
OF Skip Schumaker OF So Taguchi INF Abraham Nunez C Einar Diaz
3B Scott Rolen, sprained left shoulder, 15-day DL.
RHP Cal Eldred, viral infection, 15-day DL.
OF Roger Cedeno, hamstring, 15-day DL>