Chris Carpenter is a Cy Young winner -- an ace with a few seasons of acedom under his belt. He throws quality innings, and he usually throws them in bulk.
Ryan Vogelsong is a baseball hobo -- he can tell you how many Piggly Wigglys there are between Louisville and Durham, and he can also tell you what it was like to play with all-time baseball greats like Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera.
But they’ve had very different turns to their careers in 2011. As Andrew Baggarly put it before the game:
Ryan Vogelsong is 3-1. 1.77 ERA. Chris Carpenter is 1-5, 4.58. I wonder who will be Fred Savage and who will be Judge Reinhold in the movie.
The ‘80s had movies appropriate for everything.
So now the stage is set: one man, trying to reclaim his past glories, and another trying to scramble out of history’s dustbin to finally make a big league mark. Who would be victorious?
Eh, they were both kind of shaky. Carpenter threw five innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight despite a tight strike zone. Vogelsong threw five innings too, giving up a single run while throwing almost 100 pitches. The game was decided by the bullpen, which made the opening a little deceiving, but that’s because I a) just wanted to point out how weird it was that Chris Carpenter was pitching like Ryan Vogelsong, and vice versa, and b) make a Piggly Wiggly reference. The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night at home, coming back in the late innings and winning 4-3.
The Giants got on the board first, as an attempted hit-and-run turned into an RBI groundout for Vogelsong in the second inning. The teams exchanged runs after that, with Jon Jay singling a ball in the third inning past Pat Burrell, who thought the ball was covered in poison ivy and spiders, avoiding it at all costs. Carpenter was the runner who scored, and while it seemed like Burrell would have had a play at the plate, the point was moot.
Freddy Sanchez gave the Giants the lead again in the fifth, singling home Andres Torres to put the Giants up 2-1. And that set up LOOGY mania. With a runner on first in the seventh, Tony La Russa put Trever Miller in to face rookie Brandon Belt. Miller hit him with a pitch, eventually knocking the Giants first baseman out of the game, though x-rays were negative. Instead of pulling Miller, though, La Russa left him in to face Cody Ross, who hits like Frank Robinson against left-handers, and against right-handers. This is not an exaggeration. Ross singled to give the Giants a 3-1 lead.
Not to be outdone, Bruce Bochy put LOOGY Javier Lopez in after a pair of doubles from Jay and Albert Pujols against Sergio Romo put the Cardinals within a run. Lopez was left in to face rightie Allen Craig, who promptly doubled into the right-center field gap. Skip Schumaker then had an infield single to put the Cardinals ahead 4-3, and Fernando Salas pitched a solid ninth, allowing only a bloop double before retiring Manny Burriss, pinch-hitting for the injured Brandon Belt.
So it should have been a duel between two pitchers with careers that forked before intersecting again. That would have been cool. Instead it was a battle of bullpens with the Cardinals winning, and they’re probably not complaining.