Cardinals Major League Notebook: 10/02/09

Injured at the plate while swinging earlier this season, Chris Carpenter instead put a hurt on the Reds Thursday with his bat.

Inside Pitch

 

Besides wrapping up the National League ERA title at 2.24, Chris Carpenter made some noise with his bat Thursday.

 

Carpenter, a .105 career hitter at game time, cracked his first homer -- a grand slam -- and drove in six runs, setting a club record for a pitcher.

 

To put it in perspective, Carpenter had driven in six runs in his previous 287 at-bats -- without a home run.

 

But when Cincinnati's Kip Wells threw a first-pitch fastball to Carpenter with the bases loaded in the second inning, Carpenter did what he had promising his teammates he would do the last couple of days. He hit a home run to left field.

 

Asked if anybody believed Carpenter's proclamation, teammate Skip Schumaker said, "Not too many people.

 

"I've never seen anything like it in my life."

 

Manager Tony La Russa said, "The first thing I want to do when we get on the bus and we have cell service is that I'm going to call (Bob) Gibson and tell him what a real athlete and hitter we saw today."

 

But Carpenter said, "I've got a long way to beat Bob Gibson in anything. Bob Gibson is a man."

 

Thursday marked the 4,770th regular-season game managed by La Russa, moving him past John McGraw into second place on the all-time list. He's a long way from first-place Connie Mack (7,755). The National Baseball Hall of Fame had called for a La Russa artifact from the game, but the Hall might want something from Carpenter.

 

"You just have to show up to get the record that I got," La Russa said. "You had to do something for his record."

 

CARDINALS 13, REDS 0: After not scoring more than three runs in five of their six previous games, the Cardinals had 15 hits and led 12-0 by the end of the fifth inning. OF Rick Ankiel, who had missed six of the seven previous starts, had two hits and scored three runs.

 

Notes and Quotes

 

--Before Thursday's game, a Cincinnati Reds clubhouse attendant who is in charge of rubbing up the baseballs stopped by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa's office to tell his side of the story as to how the balls used in Wednesday's game seemed so slick to Cardinals RHP John Smoltz.

 

The attendant told La Russa, "I want you to know something. I had nothing to do with those balls last night. I'm the one who rubbed them up, but I had nothing to do with them. I don't know what happened to them after they were over there. I'm telling you I don't cheat. I don't lie. I had nothing to do with it."

 

La Russa said, "I knew they were up to shenanigans. I appreciate you saying that."

 

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan had said Cincinnati RHP Bronson Arroyo had gotten to some pine tar on his hat to enable him to grip the balls better. On Thursday, La Russa, "The guy's got pine tar all over his hat, and the other guy (Smoltz) is out there naked. We've got about six of those balls around here. (Arroyo) found a little edge. But you can't let the starting pitcher influence how the balls are prepared for the game."

 

--La Russa said he would play his regulars a good bit this weekend. "We've got to get ready (for the playoffs)," he said.

 

--Increasingly anxious over his team's hitting approach lately, La Russa called a closed-door meeting before Wednesday night's game involving some of his most impatient hitters -- CF Colby Rasmus, SS Brendan Ryan, RF Ryan Ludwick, OF Rick Ankiel and INF Mark DeRosa -- although Ryan said the veteran DeRosa served as an instructor. All of those hitters have struck out at least twice as much as they've walked. Hitting coaches Hal McRae and Mike Aldrete aided La Russa in conducting the meeting, which was called before the Cardinals would score three runs or fewer for the fifth time in their last six games and 10th in 13.

 

"I think some of it's good pitching," La Russa said. "But I think it's a very simple approach. If we see an issue, we don't ignore it."

 

BY THE NUMBERS: 37-18 -- Cardinals' record in the first 55 games LF Matt Holliday played for them.

 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I nit-pick. But I feel the progress I'm making is pretty darn good." -- RHP John Smoltz, after his sixth of six straight good starts for the Cardinals.

 

Roster Report

 

--3B Troy Glaus, who has missed most of the season with injuries, including a painfully slow recovery from January shoulder surgery, made his best impression on manager Tony La Russa with two hits, an RBI and two runs Thursday while handling himself well at third base. "He's got a lot of savvy," said La Russa, who is hoping Glaus is strong enough to help in the playoffs.

 

--1B Albert Pujols, who was sick with a heavy cold and flu on Wednesday night, was scratched from Thursday's lineup but talked his way into it. He didn't have a hit in three at-bats, walking twice.

 

--C Yadier Molina, who had sat out three starts with a bruised left knee, came out in the fifth inning Thursday after straining his left quadriceps while running out a single. However, he is expected to catch RHP Adam Wainwright's bid for his 20th victory Friday night at home against Milwaukee.

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

 

C Yadier Molina (sore left knee) left the Sept. 26 game, and he didn't play Sept. 27-30. He returned to action Oct. 1, but left the game with a strained left quadriceps. He is expected to be back in the lineup Oct. 2.

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