Chris Carpenter is Only Going to Break Our Hearts

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click to enlarge You're a heartbreaker. Dream maker, love-taker. -
You're a heartbreaker. Dream maker, love-taker.
I've been trying really, really hard this spring not to get too very excited about Chris Carpenter. All along, I've tried to take the same stance toward him that I eventually had to take regarding Mark Mulder; i.e. I don't expect him to pitch, I don't even really think of him as part of the team, if he does do anything, hey, awesome surprise. 

But yesterday, I watched Carpenter carve up what should be a pretty damned good Baltimore Orioles lineup, and I just couldn't help myself. He's burned us before, and he probably will again. Just seems to be the way things work.

He threw six innings, getting eighteen outs. Of those eighteen, fifteen of them were groundballs. Fifteen. Two strikeouts. One fly ball. Three little hits, and all were of the just-out-of-reach-of-an-infielder variety. 

That is completely, utterly ridiculous. And when it comes right down to it, his breaking ball kind of sucked for the most part. It certainly wasn't the hammer we've seen in the past, so he just mostly ignored the curve and went with fastballs. It didn't matter. He still didn't give up a run, making it fourteen consecutive innings he's shut opponents out. 

The problem with this, of course, is that I'm also pretty sure now that Carp is just trying to set Cardinal fans in general, and me in particular, up for the big fall. He's going to come out and be brilliant for the first two months of the season, and the Cards are going to be three games up on the Cubs come the first of June. Then, it's going to happen. Suddenly, in the middle of a Tuesday night start against the Reds, Carp throws a cutter, grabs his shoulder, and bursts in to flames. Turns out his shoulder simply self-destructed. 

In the wake of Carpenter getting blown up, the Cards will go 2-41 over the next couple of months, fall down below the Pirates in the standings, and the league will be forced to contract the franchise, under a little-known rule that any team worse than Pittsburgh shall not be suffered to remain on this earth. 

For now, though, he's just trying to build us up, lull us into all thinking that he may really be back. And let's face it: if Carpenter really can pitch anything resembling a full season, the Cards become instant contenders. The man is just that good. Watching Chris Carpenter pitch is a little like the first time you ever heard Jeff Buckley sing. You can't put you finger on any one thing that really stands out about the experience; there's no huge, defining moment. But when the game, or the song, is over, you find yourself left with a distinct feeling of, oh, okay, so that's how it's supposed to be done. It's just... different, somehow. 

So here I am, trying still to maintain my skepticism for Carpenter's return; after all, the man hasn't actually been healthy in two years. But after watching him dismantle the O's yesterday with pretty much nothing but fastballs, it isn't really working at the moment. I know he's only going to let me down, but I just can't stay mad. 

He had me at executing down in the zone. Sigh. 
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