|(Photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP)|
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Matt Carpenter...the Latest Thorn in the Dodger's Side
In another game not made for cardiac patients, the Dodgers came up on top this time. It was a 3-2 win over the pesky Cardinals on Saturday night, and their leadoff man has emerged as the latest heartbreaking Dodger nemesis. His name is Matt Carpenter.
Carpenter alone may be responsible for the ousting of Dodger manager Don Mattingly before this post season play is over. Mattingly is pushing all the wrong buttons when dealing with the Cardinal lead off hitter and third baseman. Concerns of power bats like Holliday and Adams are being overshadowed by Carpenter, who is teeing off against left-handed hurlers, and pretty good ones at that.
It is getting to the point that the Dodgers are going to have to reassess their strategy against Carpenter. The man is about as automatic as Matt Stairs was whenever he faced Broxton in '08 and '09. When you are counting the hitters to determine when Carpenter steps up to the plate again, well that is considered "ownage." And Carpenter currently owns the Dodger pitching staff.
Where did this guy come from?
Pretty much out of nowhere is not the answer. Carpenter's father, Rick, was James Loney's High School coach at Elkins High in the Houston, Texas area. Fact is, both Carpenter and Loney won a Texas state championship as teammates in 2002. Matt continued his high school career for another two years while the elder Loney took off to Vero Beach to play pro ball with the Dodgers after graduating.
Elkins was a high school that has produced several major leaguers and currently four that play in the bigs right now, (Loney, Carpenter, Kip Wells and Chad Huffman). Unlike Loney, Carpenter didn't enter into professional baseball right out of high school. He went off to Texas Christian University and excelled there before being drafted in the 13th round draft pick by St. Louis in 2009.
Carpenter would have gone higher in the draft, but an injury shut him down during his senior year. The Cards took a flier on him and here he is, five years later with a Silver slugger and two all star game appearances in his back pocket. Add to that the numerous clutch post-season extra-base hits to his credit and Carpenter already will long be remembered in Dodger playoff lore as a true "Dodger-killer."
"That guy's as tough an out as there is in the National League. Especially when the stakes are raised," said Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis on Carpenter after yesterday's action. He is recognized now by the Dodgers as a serious threat, and one that the Dodgers will have to solve if they plan on winning this series. This is a guy that is able to focus and visualize his success before doing it, telling Fox Sports' Erin Andrews following the Friday night victory: "I'm not gonna lie, I was thinking about the hits off him (Kershaw) from last year (2013 NLCS Game 6)."
As the Dodgers attempt to survive St. Louis, Matt Carpenter has to be primarily on their minds. If they don't solve the Carpenter dilemma, the 2014 post season could be cut short way ahead of their goals.