Game three of the NL Divisional Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals will take place Wednesday. The game will be played at Nats Park and begin at 1:07 p.m. The best of five series is tied at one game apiece. As with many playoff games, this one will come down to starting pitching.
St. Louis will start Chris Carpenter while Edwin Jackson will go for Washington. These two were teammates last season as Jackson pitched for the Cardinals.
Carpenter only started three games and pitched 17 innings in 2012. He was 0-2 with a 3.71 earned run average. It is a miracle that Carpenter has pitched at all this season because neck and shoulder problems from a pinched nerve sidelined him in spring training. In an unusual surgery, he had a rib that was pressing against the nerve and giving him problems removed.
Carpenter made his 2012 debut on September 21 against the Chicago Cubs. He did not pitch against Washington in the regular season.
Jackson was signed by the Nationals as a free agent. He finished the regular season with a 10-11 record and an earned run average of 4.03. Jackson started 31 games for Washington and threw one complete game against the Cincinnati Reds on April 14.
Jackson is 1-1 against the Cardinals this season. He pitched eight innings in an 8-1 home victory on Aug. 30. Jackson gave up one run on four hits and struck out 10. St. Louis turned it around on Sept. 28. They hammered their former teammate to the tune of nine runs on six hits and four walks. Eight of the runs were earned. Jackson took an early shower as he only lasted 1 1/3 innings and the Nationals lost 12-2.
Some might say that the Cardinals are taking a chance starting Carpenter with only three games under his belt. However, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny sees a 9-2 post season record and four years of playoff experience. Carpenter has almost always come up big in the playoffs and can be given the benefit of the doubt.
The Nationals have to worry about sending Jackson to the mound after his last outing against the Cardinals. If he gets off to another bad start, it could put Washington in catch up mode. This is not a good place to be against St. Louis as Monday afternoon’s 12-4 Cardinals win will attest.
Jackson did pitch well in his last start against the Philadelphia Phillies. He gave up one run on six hits while going 6 1/3 innings. This earned him his tenth win.
The Nationals took three out of four from St. Louis in August. This and a split of games one and two should give Washington confidence going into game three. The fact that Wednesday will be the first major league post season game in D.C. since 1933 should inspire the Nationals too.
As with all series, this game three is pivotal. The winner will get two chances to clinch, while the loser will be in a must-win situation going into game four.
This game will come down to Carpenter and Jackson. Neither can afford to be knocked out early. Both bullpens were taxed in game two.
Whoever can go the furthest will give their team a fighting chance to win.