144 regular-season wins wouldn’t typically get a starting pitcher within shouting distance of Cooperstown. With two stellar postseason performances for World Series-winning teams, though, 36-year-old Chris Carpenter is starting to build a case for eventual enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Carpenter’s win on three days’ rest in Friday’s Game 7 against the Rangers improved him to 9-2 in 15 career postseason starts. He has a 3.05 ERA in 94 1/3 innings in those games. In four World Series starts, he’s 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA.
Carpenter obviously is going to need at least a couple of more successful seasons in order to have a shot. His case would get a clear boost if Curt Schilling receives strong support when he turns eligible on the 2013 ballot. Schilling’s case gets much of its momentum from his going 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 postseason starts and pitching for three World Series-winning teams.
Schilling also has a clear edge on Carpenter in the regular season. He finished his career 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA, good for a 128 ERA+ (ERA adjusted for league and ballpark, with 100 being average). Carpenter is currently 144-92 with a 3.76 ERA, which gives him a 116 ERA+.
Carpenter and Schilling both really turned the corner in their careers at age 30. A big difference, though, is that while Schilling got far healthier in his 30s than he was in his 20s, Carpenter missed almost entire seasons in 2007 and 2008. Carpenter has really only had three Hall of Fame-type seasons, and neither his 2010 nor 2011 campaigns measure up to that standard.
So, Carpenter is still a big long shot at this point. He’ll probably need another 50-60 wins and some additional postseason success to be a realistic candidate, particularly given how unkind the voters have been to starting pitchers in recent years. Incredibly, no starting pitcher to debut in the last 40 years has been elected to the Hall of Fame.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.