This one was billed a number of ways, one for the ages, two of the best in the game, friend vs. friend etc, etc. Either way you look at it game five of the 2011 NLDS between St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter and Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay was a classic for sure and will go down in history as one of the best playoffs games ever. The game was every bit as advertised as the two went toe to toe in a nine round bout of two of the best heavyweights in the game.
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather could not have delivered a better fight. Each man delivered one blow after another only to have his opponent respond with an equally impressive round of his own to foil each potential threat. In the end Carpenter would be the last man standing as he and the St. Louis Cardinals delivered a TKO to Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies to post a dramatic 1-0 win and advance to the National League Championship Series for the right to play the Milwaukee Brewers.
If Chris Carpenter was the MVP of this game, and he was, then shortstop Rafael Furcal was
runner up. The Cardinals jumped on Halladay early as Furcal (more on him later) led the game off with a triple and scored on second baseman Skip Schumaker’s double to right. That’s the only run Halladay would surrender to the Cardinals and much to the Phillies dismay that’s the only run Carpenter would need.
Carpenter’s three hit shutout was not without it’s defensive highlights. Several Phillies threats were foiled by the Cardinals defense. Centerfielder Jon Jay went back to catch a long fly ball by Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley in the ninth inning. Utley was involved in another great defensive stop by the Cardinals in the bottom of the sixth inning. After a great jump from first Utley was attempting to steal second when Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina threw a dart to second baseman Nick Punto to gun Utley down. In the eighth inning Rafael Furcal made the most dramatic defensive play of the season to date. Phillies’ catcher Carlos Ruiz sent what appeared to be a sure single up the middle and Furcal, fully extended made a diving catch and in one motion rose to his feet to throw Ruiz out by a half step.
While there was great pitching and great defense the Cardinals win was aided by a Phillies offense that appeared overly aggressive and impatient particularly as the game neared an end. Carpenter made only 110 pitches and forced 14 ground ball outs, mostly on first and second pitches. The long fly ball by Utley in the ninth inning was on the first pitch. In the seventh with the Phillies in desperate need of runners Phillies’ first baseman Ryan Howard was given the green light on a 3-0 pitch and sent a long fly ball to right field for an out. Earlier in the fourth inning with one on and one out for the Phillies Howard sent a first pitch liner to shallow right field and second baseman Nick Punto made a spectacular catch over his right shoulder for the out.
In many ways this year’s St. Louis Cardinals mirror that of the 1964 Cardinals. That team overcame an 8.5 game deficit to the Philadelphia
Phillies to advance to the World Series against the Yankees on the last day of the season. There was also a trade that year (Brock for Brolio) that changed the dynamics of the ‘64 Cards. This improbable run by the Redbirds which has seen them overcome a 10 ½ game deficit to the Atlanta Braves and make the playoffs on the last day of the season. The Cardinals historic run was precipitated by a trade as well. The Cardinals sent minor league prospect Alex Castellanos to the Dodgers for shortstop Rafael Furcal prior to the trade deadline. That move has obviously paid dividends for the Cardinals.
In the three wins against the Phillies the Cardinals defeated arguably the best rotation in the game in Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt.
Give the Cardinals credit they didn’t lose focus after a first round knockdown in an 11-6 defeat to Halladay. They bounced back from that loss to overcome an early barrage of blows in game two to defeat Lee 5-4 in what was a comeback in and of itself as the Redbirds avoided a huge 0-2 hole. The Phillies once led that game 4-0. In what was a potential season ending game for the Cardinals in game four they roughed up Phillies starter Oswalt, a Cardinal killer as a member of the Houston Astros, for a 5-3 victory. That set the stage for game five dramatics which ended in a way that was somewhat typical of the kind of series it was for the Phillies. Ryan Howard, who went 2 for 19 (.105 BA) in the series hit a slow ground ball to second baseman Nick Punto for the final out but never made it to first base. He went down in obvious pain apparently suffering a tear to his Achilles tendon and with him went the Phillies season.
The Cardinals now move on to face the Brewers in the NLDS with game one on Sunday in Milwaukee in what is a rematch of the 1982 World Series. Milwaukee, part of the American League East at that time was led by hall of famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor and was dubbed Harvey Wall Bangers (in honor of manager Harvey Keune) for its homerun prowess. The Cardinals, members of the National League East was mangaed by Whitey Herzog who led the team to three World Series during the 80′s. Herzog instituted a style of play that combined pitching, defense and speed to make up what was better known as “Whiteyball.” The Cardinals defeated the Brewers in 7 games in 1982 to earn the franchise’s ninth World Series title. While we are far removed from Harvey’s Wall Bangers and Whiteyball this year’s version of the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukke Brewers should offer a series just as exciting.
About the Author
Written by Chaz Ingram
During his lengthy career Chaz has worked in various areas of the media. As an actor he has appeared on such shows as "Less Than Perfect" "CSI New York" and "Outlaw". He's performed on stage in such plays as "West Side Story", "The Wiz" "Oliver" and "Sugar". He has also landed roles in several commercials most notably as a reporter for "NFL Legends" and as a model for Ameriquest Mortgage. Chaz's extensive background in the broadcast industry has given him invaluable experience in several areas of the business. His work as an assignment desk intern as well as in the news and sports departments at the local ABC and NBC TV stations in St. Louis, MO has given him experence on various levels of news production. Chaz is a former host of of his own radio show "The Spirit of Chaz", where he was also writer and producer at KXEN in St. Louis. As a Marketing Consultant at KSDK-TV (NBC) Chaz was a major contributor to the station's #1 position in overall sales in the St. Louis market. At KEZK radio he was awarded "rookie of the year" for his achievements in sales. The St. Louis Business Journal recognized Chaz as one of their "40 Under 40" awardees for his work in the community with youth. Additionally, St. Louis public Schools recognized him as "Role Model of the Year" in 1995 & 1996. He is the recipient of the 1989 edition of "Outstanding Young Men of America". Chaz currently resides in Los Angeles where he owns Nicolexis Inspirations a motivational and life coach company.