Carpenter aces tough spots vs. Nationals

Pete Kozma has made the most of the inside pitches he's seen this season.When St. Louis Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter needed to be at his best, he was. The result of that was an eventual rout for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the NLDS.

Let's take a closer look inside Carpenter's performance and inside his victory.

Winning with his arm and with his bat

Carpenter threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings to improve to 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA in his last six postseason starts. Combining the regular season, he’s now 7-1 with a 3.17 ERA against the Nationals.

Carpenter’s team is 13-3 in his postseason starts (.813 win percentage), the best team win percentage for anyone who has made at least 10 postseason starts

Carpenter now has won four postseason games in which he hasn’t allowed a run. Only Tom Glavine has more such wins (6).

Most Consecutive Decisions Won
Cardinals Postseason History

The Elias Sports Bureau noted that Carpenter is the second pitcher to start a regular season game without getting a win, but start a postseason game and get a win.

The only other was Virgil Trucks for the 1945 Detroit Tigers.

Carpenter also tied the Cardinals postseason record for hits in a game by a pitcher with two. That had been done seven times previously in Cardinals history, most recently by Jeff Suppan against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2004 NLDS.

How Carpenter survived his jams

Carpenter only lasted 5 2/3 innings because of his pitch count—106 pitches. And it was a high-stress workload. He threw 73 pitches with at least one man on base.

Chris Carpenter LDS Game 3

The key pitch for Carpenter when he was in trouble was his slider.

Carpenter went to the slider 11 times with a man on base and netted four very important outs with the pitch.

He struck Michael Morse out swinging with one to end the first inning, got a pair of outs with it to strand a runner on second base in the second inning, and got Kurt Suzuki to fly out to Jon Jay with a man on second with one to end the fourth inning.

Carpenter got strikes with nine of his 11 sliders despite throwing only five of them in the strike zone.

Kozma likes the inside pitch

Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma hit a three-run home run to put this game away early.

Kozma has made the most of his playing time since the season-ending injury to Rafael Furcal. In 86 at-bats, he’s hit line drives at a 31 percent rate.

Did You Know?

In Game 3, he did something he’d previously done a couple of times this season- hook an inside pitch over the fence. The image atop this article shows the pitch locations for Kozma’s three home runs in 2012.

Kozma has relished pitches on the inner-half of the plate this season. Of his dozen extra-base hits (combining regular season and postseason), eight have come on pitches to that area.

Stat of the Game

Elias tells us that the Cardinals are the fourth team in postseason history to win consecutive games by at least eight runs in the same series.

The other three are the 1960 New York Yankees (in the World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates), the 2007 Boston Red Sox (in the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians), and the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays (in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox).