The Cardinals managed to go through the back door into the playoffs early Wednesday morning as the Los Angeles Dodgers fell to the San Francisco Giants.
Earlier, the Cardinals, who became the second and final National League wild card, had lost to the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 as right-hander Chris Carpenter continued his unexpected comeback from July 19 surgery to relieve a nerve condition that affected his neck and right shoulder.
Carpenter is 0-2 and the Cardinals have lost all three of his starts, but he has given up a total of just six runs in 17 1/3 innings.
On Tuesday, he appeared to have his best stuff, fanning seven, but he allowed a home run to Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, a former Cardinals teammate, in the fourth inning and two runs in the sixth, keyed by a double by left fielder Ryan Ludwick, another former teammate.
"I thought I was better again," said Carpenter. "Especially early on, I thought my command, my sharpness and my stuff were better than it was my first two times out, which was good.
"Unfortunately, that inning got away from me a little bit. Some of the pitches got out over the plate and they hit them. That's what's going to happen. I've got to do a better job.
"Hopefully I'll get another shot."
Carpenter would be a candidate to pitch Game 3 or Game 4 in the Division Series, if the Cardinals get that far.
The Cardinals managed only one run off Reds right-hander Mat Latos, who had a previous ERA of 18.82 against them at Busch Stadium. Then the Reds' bullpen shut down the Cardinals for the last four innings. Over the last six innings, the Cardinals had just two singles and a walk.
Unlike the previous night when the Cardinals players stayed into the wee hours to see if the Dodgers would lose (they didn't), manager Mike Matheny sent them home after this game to prepare for the regular-season finale on Wednesday.
"They need to get some rest," said
Matheny. "We've got a game tomorrow and then we've got to make a trip some way
or the other (it will be
The Cardinals likely will bypass their
scheduled starter, right-hander Adam Wainwright, and go to right-handed rookie
Shelby Miller for the series finale. If Wainwright is scratched, he well could
pitch the wild-card playoff game Friday at
NOTES AND QUOTES
LHP Marc Rzepczynski, an important man in last year's postseason but almost forgotten lately, has thrown only one inning in the last two weeks but surely will get some action on Wednesday as the Cardinals try to decide who will be on their roster for Atlanta. Manager Mike Matheny said, "What Marc does bring is a lot of experience in that situation—what was given to him last year and what he earned. He came through big. We do need to get him going, but Sam (rookie LHP Sam Freeman) is also throwing the ball well. We've got a couple of decisions to make."
LF Matt Holliday, who has struggled while battling lower back issues, is hitting with more authority over the last four games. With two singles on Tuesday, he is 6 for his last 15.
CF Jon Jay, who has been the consummate leadoff man since he was stationed there a couple of months ago, had a double and a single in his first two times up, giving him 21 multi-hit games since Aug. 6.
RHPs Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly, both of whom are apt to be on the postseason roster, worked the last three innings in scoreless fashion Tuesday, and Kelly gave up the only hit in his two innings. Rosenthal, hitting 100 miles an hour with one pitch, fanned both 2B Brandon Phillips and 1B Joey Votto, the Reds' best two hitters, in a 1-2-3 seventh.
RHP Jason Motte has all 41 of the club's saves. That never has happened before in club history.
By the Numbers:
1,085 - Career strikeouts as a Cardinal by RHP Chris Carpenter, who ranks third behind RHPs Bob Gibson and Dizzy Dean. Carpenter had seven in six innings on Tuesday.
Quote to Note:
"We just want to go to the dance. It doesn't matter exactly how you get there."
- Manager Mike Matheny, before the game, on how the Cardinals would perceive their quest for the second wild card.
LF Matt Holliday (bruised left elbow) was hit by a pitch and had to leave the game in the sixth inning Sept. 28. X-rays were negative and Holliday returned to the lineup Sept. 30.
RHP Jake Westbrook
(strained right oblique) was injured Sept. 8, and he probably is out for the
rest of the regular season. He encountered discomfort in a bullpen session Sept.
3B David Freese (sprained right ankle) missed his fifth straight game Sept. 29 but returned Sept. 30.
1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) underwent additional surgery Sept. 14 and was thought to be out for the season, but he said he still wants to try to play.
SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife, but as of Sept. 19 he still hadn't been able to do any baseball activities. Furcal plans to meet with doctors the week of Oct. 1 to see whether he can begin a throwing program.
RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10. McClellan will begin a throwing program in early November.
Link to boxscore: Cincinnati 3 at St. Louis 1