ST. LOUIS -- Sometimes all it takes is one at-bat to make a game — and a season.
On Friday night, that at-bat belonged to
With Game 6 of the
Four pitches later
"Great at-bat. That was a game-changer," Dodgers catcher
Carpenter has been the Cardinals' go-to guy all year, leading the majors with 199 hits, 126 runs and 55 doubles during the regular season. The postseason has been a bit more of a struggle, though, with Carpenter going one for 19 in the division series and hitting .167 overall.
And though his double was just one of 13 hits the Cardinals had Friday, it was clearly the biggest.
"The thing about the postseason is one at-bat can kind of change the way that things are going for you," Carpenter said. "You just have to keep competing, keep fighting.
"And that was the at-bat that kind of set us loose."
Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny agreed.
"To me, where the game changed is when Matt had the opportunity to get up there and fight off some real tough pitches from a very tough pitcher," he said.
There were other heroes for St. Louis.
Carlos Beltran, whose teams before Friday had lost all seven times he took the field with a World Series berth on the line, had three hits and two runs batted in.
But maybe none of that happens without Carpenter's filibuster-long third-inning at-bat.
It started with a slider for ball, then three four-seam fastballs that Carpenter fouled off, falling behind 1-2.
"I struck out my first at-bat. And honestly, when he got two strikes on me the second at-bat, my mind-set immediately changed. I'm not striking out," Carpenter said.
The next three pitches were breaking balls — a 75-mph curveball and two 88-mph sliders. Carpenter fouled those off, too.
"He kept making good pitches and I kept fouling them off," Carpenter continued. "Then the crowd started getting into it a little bit."
So Kershaw went back to the fastball, with Carpenter fouling back two, sandwiched around another that missed for a ball. But a pattern had emerged; Kershaw wouldn't throw more than three fastballs in a row. So Carpenter was ready when the slider came, spanking it into the right-field corner for a double.
"I got a slider I could handle and hit the double. And that ended up being the start to that big inning," he said. "It ended up being the difference in the game."