Carpenter goes deep to continue power surge
Third baseman becomes sixth player to homer in first three games of single postseason
There are a few myths that are being debunked by Cardinals hitters during the National League Division Series with the Dodgers, the most glaring being that left-handed hitters are at some sort of disadvantage against left-handed pitchers.
Matt Carpenter has probably heard that time-honored baseball assumption before, but if this series is any indication, he's not fazed by it. At all. Carpenter has had a good season, but he's having an otherworldly week. That is good news for the Cardinals, who can wrap up the NLDS with a win over the Dodgers on Tuesday.
In the first three games of this series, Carpenter is hitting .500. He has six hits in 12 at-bats, but that's not the staggering part. He has three homers, only five fewer than he hit the entire regular season. They're all against southpaws, which makes him the first lefty to homer in three straight games against a fellow lefty in postseason history.
During an in-game interview in the fourth inning, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly wondered if Stan Musial had managed to sneak into Carpenter's body and was running around.
"I don't really know what to say about that one," Carpenter said. "That's a pretty good compliment. I don't know if it's deserving."
After striking out to lead off the first inning against Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, Carpenter fared a bit better in his second at-bat. Leading off the third inning of a scoreless tie, Carpenter blasted a 1-2 changeup into the bleachers in right-center field.
Carpenter is the sixth player in history to homer in his first three games of a single postseason. His big fly also made some franchise history, as Carpenter became the first Cardinal to homer in three consecutive games in a single postseason series, and only the second to go deep in three straight in the postseason overall. Albert Pujols hit homers in Game 4 of the 2004 NLDS against the Dodgers and then Games 1 and 2 of that year's NL Championship Series against the Astros.
Carpenter's postseason performance isn't necessarily a shock, given what he's done in the past, but it is an upgrade over his regular season, which was steady, but not spectacular.
"I feel really good at that plate right now," Carpenter said. "Throughout the regular season, I wouldn't say it was a struggle, but I never really went through a stretch that I felt I was really hot. I just felt like I was just having consistent at-bats."
If there is ever a time to take it up a notch, it's now.
"I would take it now than in the regular season anytime," Carpenter said. "This is when it matters. This is when it's fun. I told somebody the other day I would take the season I had this year and do what I'm doing in the postseason 10 out of 10. That's why you play. And this has been fun."
This isn't just a Carpenter thing. The Cardinals ranked last in the NL this season with 105, but lead all teams this postseason with six home runs.
"We've heard a lot about that this season, about our lack of home runs," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's nice to see them in big situations like this. We've got guys that can do it, but we're not preaching it.
"It's not like we started October and all of a sudden say, we're going to hit homers. They're just taking good at-bats, and when they did, the ball is going to jump out from time to time. And good time for it today."