The St. Louis Cardinals' bats were nowhere to be found yet again Sunday evening, as Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants shut down the Birds 6-1 in Game 6 to force a decisive Game 7 Monday night. Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter -- the anchor of the team's postseason rotation in 2011 -- lasted just four innings, netting his second loss of the series.
For blogger bgh of Viva El Birdos, while things were looking up just days ago, the tale of this NLCS has unfortunately become about how the team's insistence on putting Chris Carpenter in the postseason rotation may spell its doom:
The celebration of Chris Carpenter, Big-Game Pitcher is based on the rigthanded workhorse that was: a pitcher who has posted a career 51.5 percent groundball rate, led the league with 237 1/3 innings pitched in 2011, out-dueled none other than Roy Halladay in Game 5 of the NLDS, and scored a pitching "win" in Game 7 of last year's World Series.
The Chris Carpenter of these playoffs is not that pitcher.
The fact that Carpenter underwent major surgery in mid-July has been beaten to death. We all know that he had a rib removed as well as muscle tissue in order to alleviate symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. In the popular imagination, this fact doesn't seem to matter because Carp is so tough he doesn't care. But Carpenter's surgery does matter.
Whether the surgical procedure itself has affected him physically, the veteran just hasn't had enough time to get himself physically prepared to pitch in the big leagues, or a combination of the two, Carpenter is plainly a shadow of his yesteryear self...
Nonetheless, the Cardinals installed Carpenter as a member of the postseason rotation. In doing so, the organization seems to have thrown analytical thought out the window--whether that be looking at Carpenter's stats, accepting what is plain to see when watching him pitch, or both. Instead, they made roster decisions based on a player's reputation. Because of the Cardinals' sentimentality, they handicapped their club in two games of a seven-game series and helped ensure that the fate of their 2012 season will be decided in a Game 7 on the road against Matt Cain.
Kyle Lohse will take the mound for the Cardinals Monday night in an attempt to salvage the series for the Red Birds. Right-hander Matt Cain will take the hill for the Giants.
Game 7 will begin at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.