Chris Carpenter pregame interview
Cardinals pitcher talks about his command and mechanics
If we get rained out tonight, are you
CHRIS CARPENTER:(Laughter.) I don't think so. Nobody said anything to me.
Has that been broached to you, is it
something you'd be interested in? If that
comes up, how do you respond if somebody
asks it to you and how does that sort of go?
CHRIS CARPENTER:It has not been brought up and I expect that Jeff is going to pitch tomorrow. If for some odd reason he comes up to me and tells me that I'm pitching and it rains out, I'll take the ball and go out and pitch.
Your last start you struggled, is
there a fatigue effect at all this time of year?
You have a lot of innings.
CHRIS CARPENTER:No, I felt good. I struggled with command, which is the biggest key, and obviously not only in this situation, but in any situation all season, if you struggle with command, throwing balls in the middle of the plate and don't throw strike one and don't get ahead of the hitters you're not going to be successful. I was able to throw my breaking ball for strikes during that game, so I'm looking forward to another chance, and I don't expect that to be the case.
Did you figure anything out in your
side day that might help you from a mechanics
CHRIS CARPENTER:No. My mechanics are fine. You know, again, I feel good. I feel strong. My stuff's there. The other day I was pulling an awful lot of balls and just not attacking the strike zone with my breaking stuff. I wrote it off as it was one of those nights that, unfortunately, I wasn't able to throw my stuff for strikes and hopefully, I plan on the next time, like I said, not being like that.
Have you ever thought how you
would handle Pujols? Chris, sorry. I
apologize. The second half of that, the reason I
ask, do you even take note when another
pitching staff, in this case the Mets, seems to
have handled him relatively well?
CHRIS CARPENTER:I don't think about how I pitch to Albert because I don't have to as of right now. You know, again, Albert is probably the best hitter in the game, there's no question about it. But if you make pitches, there's going to be times if you consistently make pitches that you're going to be able to get him out. He's human, you know, and these guys have been making a lot of quality pitches against him. The only thing I've noticed is that a little bit of pitching backwards, where they are slow early, hard late, throwing a lot of pitches out of the strike zone when they get ahead. Albert has been trying to do what he can to help this club, and you know, he's got his hits. He's hitting three something or whatever and just hasn't been up in that situation where he could drive runs in. I think that, you know, he has done a good job of, in the key situations where he has had the ability to drive a run in, to not give him anything good to hit.
What's going through a pitcher's
mind when you don't know if he's going to start
the game or what time, when you turn off the
adrenaline, how do you prepare mentally for
something like that?
CHRIS CARPENTER:For me, I can't speak for Jeff, but obviously Jeff's been through a couple of situations already this post-season. He got rained out the first game and there's a possibility he's going to get rained out a second game. For me, you're continually, you've got to stay focused all the way up until they say it's over. And to be honest with you, you go home, and for me, I start getting prepared the night before, I start thinking about my plan and what I'm going to do. I'm going over hitters in my head. It's just basically a nonstop process. You're continuing all the way up until this game is going to be played or not going to be played, and then if it's not going to be played, it's a continuing process of getting ready for tomorrow night. And Jeff's a professional guy, and obviously he handled it well the first time, and I believe he's going to handle it well again this time also.
Just a question on your breaking
ball: In San Diego when you had that masterful
game and you were able to drop the ball over
the plate, what happens from start to start that
you can locate a pitch that well in one game
and two starts later you can't?
CHRIS CARPENTER:Mechanics. I mean, I was pulling off the ball the other night. I was cutting balls off and not finishing my pitches. I was trying as hard as I could to figure out a way to get myself to fix it. And unfortunately, it was one of those games, and I had a few this year, that everything I tried wasn't working for me. You know, you go back, I believe every time I go out there that it's going to be there and I'm going to be able to do it. When it doesn't happen, you try to make adjustments pitch to pitch and hitter to hitter, and I was trying to do that all night long and I wasn't able to do it. But, you know, I felt good on my side, and I felt good playing catch, and I believe that it's going to be there this time, too.
Can you just for the layman out
there just explain what pulling off the ball is.
CHRIS CARPENTER:Well, it's just not -- it's finishing, finishing to the side, you know. Normally you want to finish --
CHRIS CARPENTER:Straightforward, going into the glove, going into the catcher. You're finishing your hand to the glove. I was, my front shoulder, my head, everything was going, basically slinging balls in there. You try to get locked back in, keeping your head still and getting on the mitt and getting on the catcher, and I was able to do it.
The two Carloses for the Mets have
been cutting a wide swath through the
post-season. What special challenges do each
of those guys pose? And they seem to be
covering both sides of the plate right now.
CHRIS CARPENTER:Obviously, you know, I've seen Carlos Beltrán play when he was in Kansas City. I played against him there when I was in Toronto and I saw him play against us when he came over to Houston, and obviously did some damage when he was there. There's a reason why he's an MVP candidate and hits 40 homers a year and drives in a bunch of runs and does the things that he does. He's a great player and a great hitter. He's a guy that you've got to move the ball around and really make pitches, and he doesn't miss mistakes and if you make a mistake he's going to hit it. Carlos Delgado is the same way. I played with him in Toronto. These two guys are great. They do a great job of driving in runs and especially in key situations. The two games that they have won, they have hit some homers. You know, the first night, Beltrán hits the homer to win the game. Carlos does damage against me with the home run ball. But fortunately we were able to score runs to come back. Obviously Game 3 there was no homers. We kept guys off base. We kept that damage control down where if Carlos or Carlos run into one, it's a solo homer and it might not hurt you. Unfortunately last night, that wasn't the case. You know, you're getting first and second and bases loaded and you get those guys in those situations where you can't be as careful. You've got to be aggressive and make pitches, and all of a sudden you leave one over the middle of the plate and they do damage.
You had said before your first start
in the series that you had stopped throwing
side sessions for last several weeks, and I
guess you threw a side session this time. You
talked about saving bullets as a reason. How
do you balance the need for the side session
with what you said about saving bullets?
CHRIS CARPENTER:Well, the reason why I threw this side session, I'm not going to get into big detail about it, there was one thing I wanted to work on, and there wasn't an extensive session. It was just something that I wanted to get up there and work on a little bit and I got my work in and did that. Don't get me wrong, I mean, you know, the last month of the season, there were times where I threw sides. You just pick and choose, you know, where you're at. Like I said before, where you're at and how you feel and what you think you need to work on. If there's something you think you need to work on, you do it, and if you don't, you relax and skip it. That's not just an opinion of mine, it's an opinion of Dunc's, too. When we talk about what I want to do and what I need to work on. If there's a reason to go up there on the mound and throw -- a lot of times I get up there and I get focused so much that I maybe throw a little bit too much, so I'm better off not doing it at all.
One of the old baseball wisdoms is
that in a series, the second time a pitcher faces
a team, it kind of favors the hitters, I'm not sure
it's true. Do you buy into that, and if so, how
do you counteract that?
CHRIS CARPENTER:I don't buy into it. I think that you have to go out and execute your game plan and execute pitches. No matter who you're facing and what you're doing, I mean, it's called pitching. That's what you do. You have to go out and you have to make pitches. And if you make pitches, you're going to have some success, no matter -- it happened with me in San Diego. It happened my last three starts before the series, my last three starts of the year, I had to face San Diego at home here and I had to face them twice in the playoffs. Obviously they got me here, and then the two times in San Diego, or the time in San Diego or the time here in the playoffs, I got them. You execute pitches. I wasn't able to execute pitches the other night. I wasn't able to execute my game plan and I got beat. If you go out there and execute pitches and execute your game plan and do things that a pitcher is supposed to do, and that's pitch, off balance, back and forth, both sides of the plate, up-and-down, things like that, you're going to have success no matter how many times you face them.
How does Delgado's ability to hit for
power and to hit really well to left and
left-center affect the way that you pitch to him?
CHRIS CARPENTER:It doesn't affect it at all. Like I said, I've seen Carlos for a long time and he's been doing that since I got called up in '97 and before that. He's a phenomenal hitter, and you've got to go out and make pitches. If you make pitches, you have a chance. If you don't -- the balls that he's hit are balls that are up and away and balls that are in the middle of the plate, and he did it off me. The two homers he hit off me, I was trying to throw a fastball in, and I left it in the middle thigh-high. Guys that hit 40 homers and drive in 100 and some runs every year don't miss those pitches. Second time I was trying to go the other way, left it out over the plate and he got it. That's what makes him a good hitter. If you make good pitches and execute what you're supposed to be doing, you have a better shot. Not saying he's not going to get you, because he can do that, too. They hit good pitches, too, but you have a better shot if you make good pitches.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.