ST. LOUIS -- They were friends long before they were foes, which is perhaps why Jacob Arrieta could occasionally get away with reminding Matt Carpenter the incredibly lopsided results of their head-to-head meetings. And for years, Carpenter had only one retort: "I'm hitting .300 against you in the postseason."Now, he
ST. LOUIS -- They were friends long before they were foes, which is perhaps why Jacob Arrieta could occasionally get away with reminding Matt Carpenter the incredibly lopsided results of their head-to-head meetings. And for years, Carpenter had only one retort: "I'm hitting .300 against you in the postseason."
Now, he has another.
With a two-run homer to help the Cardinals to a 5-0 win over the Cubs on Sunday and a series victory, Carpenter tallied his first regular-season hit off a pitcher who was once his teammate at Texas Christian University and later a groomsman in his wedding. Prior to that swing, Carpenter had been hitless in 28 regular-season at-bats against Arrieta.
"He definitely had my number, for sure, and it was definitely nice to finally put together a decent hit against him," Carpenter said. "I'm sure he's got the utmost confidence when he's facing me because he's had so much success. I just got in a good spot with a runner on first base, got a pitch elevated and was able to put a good swing on it."
Arreita's run of success against Carpenter was inching closer to historic before the Cardinals' first baseman put an end to it all. Since 1974, the only player to go hitless in more than 28 at-bats to begin his career against a pitcher was Thurman Munson, who was 0-for-35 off Frank Tanana.
Chipper Jones (vs. Hideo Nomo) and Dick Schofield (vs. Mark Gubicza) matched Carpenter's 0-for-28.
"I'm sure he's been waiting to get off the schneid against me for a while," said Arrieta, who did surrender a single to Carpenter in the 2015 postseason. "I made a mistake middle-away, and it's kind of what he's looking for. It's not the ideal first hit I'd like to give up to him, but you've got to give him a little credit there."
Credit Cardinals manager Mike Matheny for setting up the moment, too, by even having Carpenter in the lineup. Matheny could have easily justified a day off for Carpenter, who had started 15 straight games, and turned instead to first baseman Matt Adams, who's 7-for-22 in his career against Arrieta.
Matheny, however, said he never considered the switch.
"This guy is one of the best hitters in the game," Matheny explained. "How do we not throw him into a game like this is my question. It's huge for him to just get that off his back. He wants it so bad sometimes that he takes himself out of it. And I think against a guy like Jake, where they have a longstanding friendship, sometimes you can add more [pressure], too, than what you need. I think today was a big day for Carp."
The home run, which traveled a Statcast-estimated 414 feet, was Carpenter's team-leading eighth of the season and extended his current on-base streak to 12 games. And if it's to be talked about between the two buddies down the road, that conversation, Carpenter insists, will have to be initiated by someone else.
"I don't rub that kind of stuff in," Carpenter said. "I was able to get him today. It was nice to be able to go out today and individually have some success and also as a team. Any time he takes the mound, you have to battle."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.