Chris Carpenter dominated tonight as the Cardinals came into Citizens Bank Park and won Game Five of the NLDS 1-0 over the Phillies.
Aside from what has become an all too familiar first inning hiccup, Roy Halladay was fantastic. The lone run of the game came in the first when Rafael Furcal led off with a triple. Skip Schumaker fouled off pitch after pitch, a Cardinal grinding out yet another at-bat, before lacing an off-speed pitch for an RBI double.
Doc settled down and was in command the rest of the way. He received no help from the offense, which managed only three hits on the night. The Phils seemed unwilling, or unable, to mimic the patient approach employed by the Cardinals throughout the series.
Never was this more true than in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard swung at a 3-0 pitch, flying out to right. Howard was not alone in his ineptitude. Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco, and Carlos Ruiz combined to go 0-9 on the night. Jimmy Rollins, in what could have been his final game in a Phillies uniform, went 0-4.
Chase Utley and Shane Victorino combined for all three Phillies hits. Utley, who also reached base on a HBP, was thrown out trying to steal second in the bottom of the sixth after singling off of Carpenter. Aside from Hunter Pence reaching third base in the fourth, the Phillies never really threatened Carpenter.
The Cardinals made a handful of stellar defensive plays. Molina threw out Utley trying to steal second. Furcal made an unbelievable diving stop and throw to get Chooch on a bang-bang play at first. Nick Punto fielded a ball hit by Rollins that ricocheted off of Carpenter. Aside from a dropped third strike by Molina, enabling pinch hitter Ross Gload to reach first, the Cardinals did not give the Phillies any extra outs.
Carpenter finished what he started, and got the Phils to go down in order in the ninth. Utley drove a ball to deep center, but Jon Jay tracked it down on the warning track. Pence then grounded out to third, setting the stage for Ryan Howard.
After getting caught with the bat on his shoulder to end the NLCS last season, Howard stepped to plate needing to reach base to avoid making the final out in consecutive seasons. He worked the count to 2-2 before grounding out weakly to second.
He barely made it out of the box, suffering a lower leg injury as he was running to first. The final unfortunate image of Howard slumped along the first base line will be the lasting takeaway from this disappointing end to a record-breaking regular season.
Pitchers and catchers report in a little over four months.
Photo Credit: Howard Smith - US PRESSWIRE