Posted by Kevin Durso
The Phillies are looking to advance to their fourth straight NLCS with a Game 5 win. (Courtesy of Yahoo.com)
The St. Louis Cardinals are in familiar territory. One game will once again make or break their season. They managed to win that one game before. They are perfectly capable of doing it again.
The Phillies are one win away from a fourth straight trip to the NLCS. But the team that has rarely been tested this season with a must-win situation is facing one now. For the best regular-season team in the Phillies' franchise history, this fifth game of the Postseason is win or go home.
There's no reason to cover the lineups anymore. You know what you're going to see by now. The Cardinals will send Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and the rest of the Redbirds against Roy Halladay. The Phillies will send Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and the rest of the Fightins' out against Chris Carpenter.
Carpenter and Halladay have a history together, both being teammates with the Toronto Blue Jays way back when. Both have appeared in the playoffs with other teams since leaving Toronto. Carpenter has the one thing that may drive Halladay tonight, a ring. Either way, these two are their teams' respected aces, so this will be a showdown on the mound. There can only be one ace of the diamond, and one team can move on. May the best team win.
Here's a closer look at the pitching matchup and a prediction.
Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35 ERA; 1-0, 3.38 ERA) Halladay pitched the Phillies to a Game 1 win last Saturday. After allowing a three-run home run to Lance Berkman, and three hits and a walk in the game's first seven batters, Halladay retired the last 21 Cardinals he faced, finishing with eight innings pitched and eight strikeouts.
Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA; 0-0, 12.00 ERA) Carpenter pitched in Game 2, a game the Cardinals rallied to claim. Carpenter struggled in three innings of work, allowing four runs on five hits, walking three and striking out two. He was making his first start on short rest in his career. He will be on normal rest for this start.
Prediction: Phillies 2, Cardinals 1
This is going to be one of the finest pitching matchups you will see in quite some time. Both pitchers are perfectly capable of allowing their fair share of runs, but that is usually a rare occurrence. Look for some excellent pitching, and few offensive chances in this one.
Both pitchers have different stories. While Carpenter can be scored off at any time, the time to take advantage would be early in the game. The same goes for Halladay, who seems to lock himself in once he settles into his third inning of work or so. If anything, both pitchers could enter the late innings with plenty left in the tank and no runs on the board. It could even be decided by the bullpens.
If the Phillies or Cardinals are to move on, they will have to do it together. Having your ace on the mound is nice, but somebody has to get an offense going. Chances are the offense that strikes first will be the one celebrating at the end of the night.
These teams are so evenly matched, and both well on their way to success this October. For one of those teams, the journey ends tonight. For the team that moves on, something will be proven. The team that wins should have all the momentum in the world, and all the faith that they can get to the biggest stage in baseball. Whatever happens, this will be a classic game. The Phillies get the edge in my pick, solely for the fact that many wouldn't disagree in calling Roy Halladay the best pitcher in baseball.
Once again, may the best team win.