If you're going to put a face on the rise of the Cardinals from contenders in the early 00's to consistently playing for Championships, it'd probably have to be Chris Carpenter.
Pujols, obviously, was a HUGE reason, but Carpenter is still in St. Louis and will finish his career as a Cardinal. When we look back at this era, it's going to be Carp, Yadi and Pujols - in that order - as the embodiment of success.
After Mr. Carpenter's previous start in Game 2 of the NLCS, I don't think we wanted to admit that 4 innings and 5 runs was anything more than fluke. He went out in Game 6 of the NLCS and repeated the feat, though. And now it's time to gnash teeth.
Because it's better than looking forward and realizing the Cardinals had 3 chances to win 1 game to advance to the World Series and they're now down to their last one.
No, Game 6 was lost early. And often. With the Giants doing their best to fist, saw off, dink and dunk their way to another improbable series comeback. The box score will show those hits as frozen ropes, but those that watched know better. Hell, 3 of the runs were unearned - now a total of 9 for the serious - leading the way to a 7th and decisive game.
Oh, and Ryan Vogelsong took a no-hit bid into the 5th inning. Did I mention that, because the Cardinals went 15 straight LCS innings without scoring a single run. It took a mini miracle to scratch out 1 on Sunday night.
Chris Carpenter needed to do better. He needed to come out early and get some big outs and settle a boisterous crowd down. This is why he makes the big bucks. This is his bailiwick.
Yet he failed for the second straight time to give his team a change to gain momentum and win. I wish I didn't have to write that and post another picture of teammates mobbing Carp with Champagne bottles and hugs instead.
But here we are. Anxiety on high. Counting on Kyle Lohse to save the season.
We told you that the Cardinals never do anything easy. And they're holding true to form.
Let's just hope that their other modus operandi hold true and that they're on another Happy Flight home to St. Louis.