Tag:Chris Carpenter
Posted on: October 6, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 5:13 pm
 

NLDS Game 5: Halladay, Carpenter square off

Halladay, Carpenter

By Evan Brunell

Cardinals vs. Phillies, Citizen's Bank Ballpark, 8:37 p.m. ET on TBS

When the playoffs began, no one gave the Cardinals a shot. Really, no one.

Not one of CBSSports.com's baseball experts picked St. Louis to advance, and only Danny Knobler thought it would go the maximum five games. And yet, here we are, Game 5 in Philadelphia with Roy Halladay going up against Chris Carpenter. The Phillies are still the more vaunted team but when it comes down to one game, anything goes. The Cardinals already took a game in Philadelphia, so they don't have the bugaboo of having to play in Citizen's Bank Park. Add in a rather convincing win on Wednesday, in which Philadelphia didn't score after the first, and one has to think the Cardinals just might have the upper hand heading into Thursday's game.

One problem with that, though: Halladay. The right-hander may or may not win the NL Cy Young Award this year if Clayton Kershaw has anything to say about it, but either way, he had a Cy Young-caliber season and already has two of these trophies to his name. On paper, it's a drastic mismatch against a former Cy Young Award winner himself in Carp, who took home the award in 2005. Both Carpenter and Halladay are ex-Blue Jays teammates, which makes the matchup that much sweeter.

LINEUPS

Cardinals Phillies
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Jimmy Rollins SS
2 Skip Schumaker CF 2 Chase Utley 2B
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Hunter Pence RF
4 Lance Berkman RF 4 Ryan Howard 1B
5 Matt Holliday LF 5 Shane Victorino CF
6 Yadier Molina C 6 Raul Ibanez LF
7 David Freese 3B 7 Placido Polanco 3B
8 Nick Punto 2B 8 Carlos Ruiz C
9 Chris Carpenter RHP 9 Roy Halladay RHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Carpenter vs. Phillies: Carpenter blew up against Philadelphia in Game 2, going on three-days rest although St. Louis eventually won the game. Going just three innings, Carpenter coughed up four runs on five hits and also walked an uncharacteristic, struggling with the strike zone. That was the game Tony La Russa complained on national TV about the zone despite no evidence toward the umpire displaying prejudice to St. Louis. The extra day of rest could help Carpenter return to his dominating ways, as he gave up just one run in two starts against the Phillies in the regular season. Chase Utley is 7 for 15 in his career against Carpenter, and Ryan Howard is 3-for-11 with a home run.

Halladay vs. Cardinals: Halladay coughed up three runs in Game 1, all coming in the first inning on a three-run home run by Lance Berkman -- the second straight time Berkman homered off Halladay in the first inning. In the regular season, Halladay registered a 3.21 ERA, losing in September after surrendering four runs.  Including Game 1, Albert Pujols is just 3 for 14. Skip Schumaker, who collected two hits in Game 1, has a .364 batting average against the right-hander in 12 plate appearances. 

 NLDS Game 5

NOTES

  • Matt Holliday finally made his first start of the postseason in Game 4 and is expected to start again in Game 5.
  • Cliff Lee volunteered to be available in the bullpen if needed, but its doubtful Charlie Manuel will use him. The Phils have a capable bullpen, but never say never -- it is Lee's throw day, so it could happen.
  • The Cardinals and Phillies will be playing the second Game 5 of the LDS, with the Yankees and Tigers playing the first on Thursday night. Arizona and Milwaukee are also slated to play a Game 5 later Friday, giving the 2011 season three Game 5s in the LDS. From 2004 to 2011, there were just two Game 5s total.
  • The forecast is currently projected to be 51 degrees at nighttime with no chance of rain and minimal wind.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:51 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Former teammates meet in NLDS Game 5



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter were supposed to be pitching in the playoffs -- but for the Toronto Blue Jays. Both pitchers were drafted and developed by the Blue Jays and spent five years in Toronto as teammates. 

Carpenter, the team's first-round pick in 1993, was released by the Blue Jays after the 2002 season when he went 4-5 with a 5.28 ERA in just 13 starts because of a shoulder injury that required surgery on his labrum. He signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals and missed all of 2003, but returned in 2004 and won 15 games in his first season back and the Cy Young in his second.

Halladay, on the other hand, did develop into the ace the Blue Jays expected when they drafted him in the first round of the 1995 draft. However, as the years went on, the Blue Jays didn't sniff the playoffs and could no longer afford their ace, trading him to Philadelphia before the 2010 season.

The two were teammates from 1998-2002 and went a combined 46-43 with a 4.80 ERA -- hardly the thing deciding playoff "dream matchups" are made of.

"I really did feel like we kind of learned together, more mentally how to approach the game and how to play the game, and it was a lot of fun. I remember a couple times going to dinner and talking about how we were on a roll at the time, and we really felt like that we had kind of both turned the corner," Halladay said in a news conference on Thursday. "You know, it was a great experience for me going through that with a guy that was in a similar situation. We really felt like we kind of came up together and learned together, and you know, to be able to do that with another guy, I think, helps you not only learn from him but you see things that he goes through, and you pick up on that. It was just a great experience to go through that together, to learn together, to get better together, and ultimately coming out of there feeling like the time that we spent had really benefitted both of us."

Neither was an immediate success in the majors. Halladay had a 10.64 ERA in 13 starts for the Blue Jays as a 23-year-old in 2000, while Carpenter had a 49-50 record with a 4.83 ERA in his six seasons in Toronto. 

Friday the two will face off in Game 5 of the National League division series, the winner heads to the NLCS and the loser gets ready for 2012. While Carpenter has been a Cardinal since leaving Toronto and Halladay made his move to the National League before last season, this will be the first time the two have started against each other.

"You know, we've talked about this scenario. I think it's something we're both looking forward to," Halladay said. "It's going to be a challenge. Going in, you know what you're up against, you know how good they are. You know how good Chris is. And I think everybody expects that he's going to obviously be a lot better than his last time out. We have our work cut out for us, but yeah, I'm looking forward to it, and I know Chris is, also. You know, it's fun. We haven't got a chance to pitch against each other, and if you're going to do it for the first time, might as well be now."

Halladay started Game 1 of the series, getting roughed up in the first inning, allowing three runs, but cruising from then on. Carpenter, starting on short rest, gave up four runs in the first two innings of his start in Game 2 and being lifted after the third, having given up four earned runs on five hits, throwing 64 strikes. He'll be back on regular rest for Friday's deciding game, making it the matchup everyone's looked for ward to seeing. 

"And I look at tomorrow's game as, yeah, we've got two great pitchers pitching against one another and there's two good teams, and I look at that as that's kind of what it should be," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said at a news conference. "That's what playoff baseball should be. And that's where it's at."

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Phillies-Cardinals series | 2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:16 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 12:26 am
 

La Russa complains about strike zone

Lee

By Evan Brunell

The Cardinals came away with a 5-4 victory in Game 2 of the NLDS to even the series at one apiece, but the game wasn't without a typical Tony La Russa complaint.

La Russa told TBS on national TV that there were two separate strike zones and that was the reason for Chris Carpenter's failed start. Carpenter was starting on three days rest, the first time he's ever done that. He was bombed for four runs over three innings and it was only due to a masterful, shutdown performance by the bullpen that the Cardinals eked out a victory.

But was La Russa right? Well, Cliff Lee had his own problems too and ended up surrendering five runs in six innings. His 12 hits allowed tied a career high, last achieving the feat on May 3, 2009 in Detroit while a member of the Indians, five teams back in Lee's mind. But Lee was dominant early on, and the below graphic shows Meals' strike zone through three innings, so it includes all of Carpenter's pitches, plus Lee's best stretch of pitching throughout the whole game, holding St. Louis scoreless through three.

Strike zone

As you can see, Meals isn't discriminating against either pitcher, although he doesn't allow the high and inside pitch to lefties. Meals may not be following the rules of a strike zone to a T, but at least he's consistent. Carpenter struggled because Meals wasn't calling the low pitch, which is Carp's bread and butter. But if you see the zone, Meals was actually spot on in not allowing Carpenter to get away with the low pitches out of the zone. Just because the umpire didn't gift Carpenter strikes doesn't give La Russa justification to go and complain about two separate zones, calling the umpire's integrity into question (although we certainly do plenty of that here at Eye on Baseball) when Meals was actually consistent on both sides. (The remainder of the game saw more of the same in Meals' strikezone.)

2011 playoffs
Both pitchers were getting squeezed, but Lee also suffered from bad luck. Some of the Cardinals' hits were flares or balls that snuck through the infield dirt. Hey, it all counts, but it's not as if Lee was getting ripped. He was dinked and dunked to death, and the hits just kept on piling up in the fourth and sixth, with Brad Lidge extricating Lee from further trouble by getting out of a no-out, first-and-third scenario.

After the game, La Russa admitted it wasn't "a great comment to make," and excused it away by saying that everyone cares too much. He later added that the Cardinals have no choice but to adjust to the strike zone that the umpire sets. Sounds like someone is trying to avoid a fine from MLB.

Next time, La Russa would do well to keep his mouth shut from the start and allow the Cardinals to do their speaking on the field. Look at what we're discussing in the postgame, after all, instead of a hard-fought Cardinals win.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 9:38 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Carpenter puts Cards in 4-0 hole after two

Carpenter

By Evan Brunell

Chris Carpenter headed to the mound for Game 2 of the NLDS attempting to pitch on three days rest for the first time in his career.

Skipper Tony La Russa explained the move as wanting Carpenter to make two starts in the series as the reason for moving him up a day and slotting Jaime Garcia in Game 3. La Russa was taking a calculated risk, as three-days-rest outings in the postseason have decreased in both frequency and effectiveness over the last several seasons. And La Russa of all people should have noticed that, as his personal history bears out. Prior to Carpenter's start, La Russa started a pitcher on three days rest four times in the playoffs for St. Louis. The combined ERA for all four pitchers? 14.18. (hat tip: @BJRains)

Carpenter is more of the same, as his 18.00 ERA after two innings bears out. He needed 30 pitches just to record the first out of the game, loading the bases on a leadoff double and two walks, allowing two runners to come in on a Ryan Howard RBI single. That makrs six RBI in two postseason games for Howard, after six games last year led to zero RBI. Another run went on to score in the inning, then Carp got two quick outs in the second. Alas, Rollins doubled again to bring up Utley. Before a 3-2 pitch to Utley, TBS cameras caught La Russa yelling "s---!" He proved psychic as Utley walked, allowing Hunter Pence to drill a RBI single before Carpenter retired Howard to get out of the second.

A 4-0 hole in the playoffs is never good, but when it's scored by the Phillies, you can pretty much count the game over. With Cliff Lee on the mound, it's going to be hard enough to score one run, never mind four. Carpenter is coming out for the third inning, but unless he can turn it around quick, he won't be long for the game.

Follow the game live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 9:22 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:34 pm
 

2011 NLDS matchup: Phillies vs. Cardinals



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals were left for dead in late August, trailing in both the NL Central and the wild card by more than 10 games. There was even talk they'd trade All-Star right fielder Lance Berkman once he cleared waivers. Instead, they held onto him and went 23-9 in the last five weeks of the season. A season-ending 8-0 win over the Astros propelled the Cardinals into the playoffs as the Braves lost in 13 innings. As their prize, the Cards now get to face the best team in baseball in a short series. The Phillies won the NL East for the fifth straight season and ended up with a franchise-record 102 wins. The Cardinals recently took three of four in Philly, but the Phillies weren't really playing for anything. What happens this time around? We'll soon find out. 

TEAM INFORMATION

Philadelphia Phillies (host games 1, 2, 5)
102-60, NL East champions
Manager: Charlie Manuel
Team batting statistics: .253 batting average (9th in NL), .323 on-base percentage (5th), .395 slugging percentage (7th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.02 ERA (1st), 1.167 WHIP (1st), 3.22 K/BB (1st)
Star player: SP Roy Halladay -- 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.040 WHIP, 220 K in 233 2/3 innings

St. Louis Cardinals (host games 3, 4)
90-72, NL wild card champions
Manager: Tony La Russa
Team batting statistics: .273 batting average (1st in NL), .341 on-base percentage (1st), .425 slugging percentage (1st)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (8th), 1.306 WHIP (10th), 2.45 K/BB (5th)
Star player: 1B Albert Pujols -- .305/.349/.465, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 29 2B, 9 SB

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)  

Full Playoff Coverage
Game 1: STL @ PHI, Oct. 1, 5:07 p.m. ET. Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39) vs. Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35)
Game 2: STL @ PHI, Oct. 2, 8:07 p.m. ET. Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45) vs. Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40)
Game 3: PHI @ STL, Oct. 4 Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79) vs. Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56)
Game 4: PHI @ STL, Oct. 5* Roy Oswalt (9-10, 3.69) vs. Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79)
Game 5: STL @ PHI, Oct. 7* TBD vs. Halladay
* if necessary

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Philadelphia: Carlos Ruiz
St. Louis: Yadier Molina

This is one of the best match ups in all of the playoffs, you have two of the best defensive catchers in the game and two of the best handlers of a pitching staff. Catcher is probably the toughest position in baseball and the toughest to judge. However, these two are at the very top when they have the gear on. 

Advantage: Tie

First base
Philadelphia: Ryan Howard
St. Louis: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols struggled at the beginning of the year, but still finished with 37 homers and a .305 batting average. With the game on the line, who else in baseball would you rather have on the line? Nobody, that's who.

Advantage: Cardinals

Second base
Philadelphia: Chase Utley
St. Louis: Skip Schumaker

Even hobbled, Chase Utley is still one of the best second basemen in the game.

Advantage: Phillies

Shortstop
Philadelphia: Jimmy Rollins
St. Louis: Rafael Furcal

Furcal is struggling with a hamstring injury, and that really hurts the Cardinals because so much of his game is based on his speed. And when you start dealing with a speedster's wheels, they lose a lot of their effectiveness.

Advantage: Phillies

Third base
Philadelphia: Placido Polanco
St. Louis: David Freese

Casual fans may not know much about David Freese, but when healthy, the Cardinals' third baseman is an impressive hitter -- and right now, he's apparently healthy. Freese, 28, had a hit in eight of the team's last nine games.

Advantage: Cardinals

Left field
Philadelphia: Raul Ibanez
St. Louis: Matt Holliday

Holliday's status is unclear, but he is on the postseason roster. If Holliday plays, he's one of the game's best. That said, his palm is an issue. He took batting practice on Friday. Even at 80 percent, Holliday is a heck of a player.

Advantage: Cardinals

Center field
Philadelphia: Shane Victorino
St. Louis: John Jay

Jay has played well as the team's center fielder, hitting .297/.344/.424, but Victorino is having a great season. Not only did he hit 17 homers, he's also played Gold Glove defense.

Advantage: Phillies

Right field
Philadelphia: Hunter Pence
St. Louis: Lance Berkman

The former teammates provide perhaps the most intriguing matchup. Both have been the faces of the Astros franchise and are now beloved in their new homes. Berkman's wrapped up the Comeback Player of the Year award, hitting .301/.412/.547 with 31 homers and 94 RBI. Pence was an All-Star in Houston and even better in Philadelphia, where he's hit .324/.394/.560 with 11 homers in 54 games. Pence isn't a Gold Glover, but he's Willie Mays compared to Berkman in the outfield.

Advantage: Tie

Starting pitching
Philadelphia: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt
St. Louis:Kyle Lohse, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson

You may have noticed that the Phillies have a pretty good rotation.

Advantage: Phillies

Relief pitching
Philadelphia closer: Ryan Madson
St. Louis closer: Jason Motte

The Cardinals' bullpen has been bolstered by mid-season additions of Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel (the deal also allowed them to move Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen with the addition of Jackson). Since the trade, the Cardinals have the third-best bullpen ERA (2.86) in baseball. But the Phillies' pen has been stout all year long, while the Cardinals still have a bit of uneasiness when Tony La Russa makes one of his many visits to the mound.

Advantage: Phillies

Total advantage: Phillies (5), Cardinals (3), tie (2)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Phillies in 3
Gregg Doyel: Phillies in 3
Danny Knobler: Phillies in 5
Scott Miller: Phillies in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Phillies in 4
Matt Snyder: Phillies in 3

Trent's take: The Cardinals have the best offense in the National League and the Phillies the best pitching, so it will be interesting to see strength-on-strength, even though I'm always inclined to take pitching in that situation. The Phillies are the favorites, there's no doubt about that. The fact that Furcal and Holliday are hobbled by injuries doesn't hurt that idea, either. La Russa raised some eyebrows when he switched up his rotation on Friday, announcing he'd pitch Carpenter on three-day's rest in Game 2. If the Cardinals can take one of the first two games of the series, the pitching difference isn't as big in the second two games, which could make the series interesting. But there are still "ifs" to get to that point.

More Phillies-Cardinals NLDS coverage

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:11 am
 

Phillies have the best rotation in playoffs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

This time of year, pitching can carry an otherwise flawed team all the way to a title, we saw that last year when the Giants rode their starters and a shut-down closer to a World Series championship. So which teams have the best rotations heading into this postseason? Glad you asked…

Here's our ranking of the eight playoff rotations:

 

1. Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt

Like there was a doubt? Halladay started last postseason with a no-hitter. It'll be tough to top that, but we'll see what happens when the National League's best pitching staff takes on the National League's best offense. 

 

2. Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price

Joe Maddon is taking one heck of a chance giving a rookie with fewer than 10 big-league innings under his belt on the hill to start Game 1, but Moore is amazingly talented -- and he's never lost a start for the Rays (small sample size alert!). 

 

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf

Gallardo is perhaps the least-heralded of the Brewers' starters, but that could just be that unlike the other members of the team's rotation, he's spent his entire season in Milwaukee. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone 44-29 with a 3.69 ERA over the last three years. There's also former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke who wanted to be traded from Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs. Now he's here and it's time to deliver.

 

4. Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello

Call them top-heavy, and even heavier at the top since Fister joined the rotation. Fister, acquired at the deadline from Seattle, has gone 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts for the Tigers. Add him to Justin Verlander and you have a heck of a 1-2 punch. It's the 3-4 that lacks punch.

 

5. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

It looks like Arizona will go with a three-man rotation in the playoffs, which will certainly help the bullpen with the addition to Josh Collmenter. Kennedy was the breakout star of the Diamondbacks' rotation, winning 21 games, while Hudson and Saudners have also pitched well.



6. Texas Rangers:
C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison

Sure, they don't have Lee this year, but they do have Wilson, who has established himself as an ace, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA this season, striking out 206 batters in 223 1/3 innings. Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) is the only right-hander in the rotation.

 

7. St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals' two best pitchers are pitching Games 3 and 4, but everyone has contributed down the stretch. St. Louis would be higher on the list with Adam Wainwright, but he's not coming back this season. Jackson has pitched well since joining the team and Lohse, a former Phillie, has had a bounce-back season.

 

8. New York Yankees: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia

Sabathia's as good of a big-game pitcher as there is in the game, but Nova is a rookie and Garcia is anything but. The fact the team is going with a three-man rotation tells you what you need to know about the guys not in the rotation. Garcia's the team's third-best starter -- I guess $196 million doesn't buy what it once did.

For more postseason coverage.

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Players of the Month: Beltre, Fister

Fister, Beltre

By Evan Brunell

September brought a dazzling postseason race that culminated in perhaps baseball's greatest final day of the season. Interestingly enough, however, there were only two of a possible 12 nominees for September player of the month that had any involvement in the race to the wire. As far as individual performances went, September belonged to two teams who had the division title in hand much of the month.

September's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Cabrera Fister
Miller Beltre Fister
Brunell Napoli Fister
Rosecrans Longoria Carpenter
Snyder Beltre Fister
Fantasy Kinsler Fister

Texas had an incredible offensive explosion, with three separate players garnering votes. Adrian Beltre, who finished fifth in the AL with 32 home runs, eked out a victory over his teammates along with Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria. Beltre hit .374/.385/.778, driving 12 homers out of the park after missing all of August and part of July with injury. Imagine how many homers Beltre might have had if he stayed healthy.

Teammates Napoli and Kinsler also had months to remember, the second baseman swinging to the tune of .330/.421/.711, blasting 11 homers, just one behind Beltre. He also swiped eight bags, two more than any other month to finish with 30 stolen bases and give Kinsler a 30/30 season. Napoli blew Beltre and Kinsler out of the water statistically, although he played in in a handful of less games thanks to being a catcher and having people blocking him at DH and first base. But Napoli went bonkers for a .429/.518/.843 line.

Meanwhile, Evan Longoria put the Rays in the playoffs and Miguel Cabrera solidified the offense behind the pitcher of the month in Doug Fister. Acquired from the Mariners at the trade deadline, Fister blew away the competition in September and showed that he was for real. After coming up as nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation starter thanks to solid command but no true out pitch, he emerged with Detroit as a potential ace. Fister's 0.5 ERA in September paced the field, and he was a perfect 5-0, throwing 34 innings and allowing just 15 hits and three walks.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July | August

Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
CabreraMiguel Cabrera, Tigers
I read somewhere that Cabrera said Justin Verlander was the MVP. I'll go with that, but if there's an MVP for September, it's got to be Cabrera, who hit .429 and drove in 21 runs, with a 1.290 OPS. He hit, and the Tigers took off.
BeltreAdrian Beltre, Rangers
Not only did Beltre step off of the DL in the month of September and ease Texas' October concerns, he did it with incredible aplomb. Aside from playing his usual great third base, Beltre slugged 12 homers, collected 29 RBI and had an astounding 1.162 OPS. Thanks to his glove and his bat, the Rangers clinched home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
NapoliMike Napoli, Rangers
Napoli struggled to break through with the Angels, then finally forced the Rangers' hand. And yet, he still goes unnoticed despite leading all batters in September in slugging percentage (.843), tied for first in average (.429) and second in OBP (.518). Only one word for this performance: Beast.
LongoriaEvan Longoria, Rays
Am I putting too much on Wednesday night's performance? Perhaps, but he still had an incredible month as the Rays rallied over the last month of the season from nine games behind the Red Sox when the month started. Longoria hit .289/.454/.589 over the last month with seven homers and 22 RBI, including two big homers in the biggest game of the year.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
 BeltreAdrian Beltre, Rangers
The Rangers have been under the radar this month because they were expected to win the West, didn't have a huge comeback and won last year. But two of the best players in baseball this past month came from Texas and they weren't named Michael Young. Ian Kinsler loses out by a nod here, as Beltre hit 12 homers, drove home 28 and had a .374/.385/.778 line.
KinslerIan Kinsler, Rangers
Kinsler's .330 batting average wasn't the highest for a batter in September, but that's the way his entire season has gone. The .255 hitter is so valuable in so many other ways that he's clearly among the cream of the crop, and never was it more evident than in September. He had 16 walks, 11 homers and eight steals, and the latter two propelled him to a 30-30 season.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
The Red Sox got Erik Bedard. The Tigers got Fister. The Red Sox are going home. The Tigers aren't. Fister was 5-0 in September, with a 0.53 ERA. Red Sox starters were 4-11 with a 7.08 ERA. Fister allowed just 18 base runners in 34 innings, with 34 strikeouts.
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
I watched Fister pitch down the stretch after Detroit acquired him from Seattle at the July 31 trade deadline and I felt like I was watching Doyle Alexander in 1987. Fister is taller (6-8), but man, was he nails after the trade. He went 5-0 in September with 34 strikeouts and three walks. He compiled an 0.53 WHIP. As long as the Tigers didn't give Seattle a future John Smoltz (they didn't), this is the best trade any contender made.
Brunell Rosecrans
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
What else can be said that my fine colleagues already hasn't? Fister's September was so awe-inspiring, no one blinks twice when his name gets slotted behind Verlander at No. 2. in the postseason rotation. This guy was a No. 4/5 starter last year. How quickly things change.
CarpenterChris Carpenter, Cardinals
Carpenter went 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in six starts in September. He also had two shutouts, as well as a scoreless eight-inning appearance against the Phillies. Like Longoria, he had a pretty good night on Wednesday, allowing just two hits to the Astros in his shutout at Minute Maid Park. September's all about raising to the occasion, and that's what Carpenter did.
Snyder Fantasy -- White
FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
The Tigers' rotation isn't a one-man show. Justin Verlander is going to take home the Cy Young in a rightful landslide, but Fister gives them a solid No. 2. He was 5-0 with a 0.53 ERA and a 34/3 K/BB rate in 34 innings. Many pitchers had great months, but Fister's symbolized how great the Tigers' chances to reach the World Series have become.
 FisterDoug Fister, Tigers
It sounds like a joke, but it's not. Fister was the most valuable pitcher for Fantasy owners in September. Was Javier Vazquez slightly better? Yes. But the disparity between expectations and results for Fister was so high that he's now forever part of Fantasy lore. He managed to win more games (five) than he started (four) and allowed only 18 baserunners in 34 innings. He was an out-of-nowhere ace.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 3:35 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 3:37 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Baseball's amazing night

Evan Longoria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Plain and simple, if you're a baseball fan, Wednesday night was flat awesome. It reminded you just why we have the greatest game out there, and that each and every of the 162 games of the season could end up meaning something. Three of the four games that were part of the wild-card races were tight, two of them going into extra innings with ninth-inning heroics. Although this space will be filled from the four big games of the night, there were several other worthy performances that shouldn't be overlooked -- like Mike Napoli's two-run homer against his old team giving the Rangers home-field advantage in the ALDS, Stephen Strasburg striking out 10 in six innings to earn his first win of the season, Trevor Plouffe's RBI single with two outs in the ninth to help the Twins avoid 100 losses and Miguel Bautista's two-hit shutout for the Mets. But what made Wednesday exciting was the four games that decided the wild cards -- Red Sox-Orioles, Yankees-Rays, Cardinals-Astros and Braves-Phillies.

Evan Longoria, Rays: Only two players in the history of the game have hit walk-off homers in their team's last game of the regular season to send their team to the postseason -- Bobby Thompson and now Evan Longoria. And Longoria didn't just hit the game-winner, he also gave the team the idea that it could come back with a three-run homer to cap a six-run eighth and pull the Rays to within a run of the Yankees. He also had a big defensive play, but more on that later. 

Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: While the other three games for the wild cards were taut nip-tuck affairs, Carpenter made sure the Cardinals had no worries, throwing a two-hit shutout in a 8-0 victory over the Astros. Carpenter finishes the season with a rather pedestrian 11-9 record and 3.45 ERA, but over the last month of the season he was 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in six starts, including two shutouts.

Bud Selig: Yeah, everyone loves to complain about everything Bud does, but you've got to give credit where credit's due -- this ending the season on a Wednesday worked. Not only will it give us early games of the playoffs on a weekend, it gave us Wednesday night's excitement, without any other distractions. There were no football games to compete against, instead all of the sports world's eyes were on baseball. And anyone watching was rewarded in an amazing night.


Carl Crawford, Red Sox: It may not be fair to place the entire blame of Boston's disastrous 2011 on Crawford's shoulders, but when you have a $142-million contract, your shoulders have to be broad. Crawford was 1 for 4 on the night, but he'll best be remembered for not being able to run down Robert Andino's sinking liner that scored Nolan Reimold from second with the winning run. Crawford charged the ball and slid, but came up just short as the Red Sox lost for the 20th time in September. Crawford finished his first season in Boston hitting .255/.289/.405 with 11 homers and 56 RBI. Marco Scutaro's baserunning gaffe in the eighth inning will also be remembered as part of the team's epic collapse, but right now, Crawford's Q rating in Boston is lower than Bill Buckner's.

Craig Kimbrel, Braves: Atlanta's rookie closer led all big-league relievers with 126 strikeouts, finished tied for the most saves in the National League with 46 and may win Rookie of the Year in the NL. But his 2011 will forever be remembered for Wednesday night when he blew his eight save of the season, giving up a leadoff single to Placido Polanco. After striking out Carlos Ruiz, he walked Ben Francisco and Jimmy Rollins to load the bases. Chase Utley followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3, before Kimbrel was lifted from his 79th game of the season. Four innings later, the Phillies finally scored and then ended the Braves' season. Of Kimbrel's eight blown saves, three came in September, including a pivotal game on Sept. 9 in St. Louis against the eventual wild-card winners.

Greg Golson, Yankees:  Before Lognoria's heroics in the bottom of the 12th, Golson led off the top of the inning with a single, and then went to third when the next batter, Eric Chavez, singled. It appeared the Yankees would be able to push the go-ahead run across the plate, but Jorge Posada hit a grounder to third, and Golson was caught too far off the bag and Longoria tagged him out for the first out of the inning. Not only did Golson make the out, he also didn't even get into a rundown to let Chavez advance to third. Chris Dickerson then struck out and Brett Gardner grounded out to end the Yankees threat and set up Longoria's heroics.

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