The day after John Smoltz was upset for not having his balls properly rubbed, the Cardinals send their ace out to try to salvage something from this series. I'm sure you don't need a recap of Carpenter's career of dominance over the Reds, so I'll just point out that this season he has made 3 starts against Cincinnati and thrown 23 innings, allowing just 4 runs while striking out 18 and walking only one. BUT, he has never faced Scot Rolen's Reds™. He hasn't faced the team that has gone 25-11 in its last 36 games, averaging 5.1 runs per game in that span. It's a whole new ballgame now...er, probably not.
Remember a couple of days ago when I talked about how Bronson Arroyo has been successful because of the defense has improved behind him? Let me introduce you to Kip Wells. While Arroyo's DER (Defensive Efficiency Ratio - the number of balls in play turned into outs) was a fabulous .742, Wells' DER is even better at .786 with the Reds. Suffice it to say, neither number is likely sustainable, but I think this demonstrates that even a mediocre pitcher can look good when there is a top flight defense behind him. It's a helluva lot easier to pitch when balls in play are turned into outs instead of doubles.
Just four more games left in the season, and honestly, this last month-plus has been really fun, so I'm kind of sad to see it end. I'm still not overly optimistic about 2010, but I've enjoyed watching winning baseball for once. And the Reds are just one game back of the 3rd place Brewers, who are up against the playoff bound Rockies and Cardinals in their last 4 games. We've got a shot.