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.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.