Chris Carpenter joins exclusive club with 10th postseason win

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Thought to be out for the season after July surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, Chris Carpenter came back to go 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts at the end of the regular seasons. On Wednesday, he picked up his first win in almost a year by shutting out the Nationals for 5 2/3 innings in the Cardinals’ 8-0 victory.

Carpenter’s previous victory came in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers. He went 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in six starts last October. Adding in today’s effort, Carpenter is 10-2 with a 2.88 ERA in 16 career postseason starts.

Carpenter is now one of 10 pitchers to have 10 career postseason wins. In that group, he ranks fifth in postseason ERA behind Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Whitey Ford and Dave Stewart. He comes in ahead of David Wells, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.

Of course, Carpenter has a worse regular-season track record than anyone in that group besides Stewart and probably Wells. His already slim Hall of Fame chances took a hit with this year’s injury limiting him to just three starts. Carpenter has been a great pitcher for the Cardinals and a key member of two world champions, but he’s given them just six healthy seasons in nine years with the club. His six years for Toronto early in his career only hinder his case, as he went 49-50 with a 4.83 ERA. As a result, Carpenter is going to enter his age-38 season next year with 144 lifetime victories. If he ends up with 170 wins or so, it’s going to be a tough thing for voters to overlook when it comes time to evaluate his career.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.