Carpenter hits 3 homers as Cards demolish Cubs 18-5
The sublime was the St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Carpenter.
The ridiculous was the rest of it.
Carpenter had himself quite a day, hitting 3 home runs and 2 doubles while driving in 7 runs as the Cardinals demolished the Cubs 18-5 Friday at Wrigley Field.
As ridiculous as it got for the Cubs, they managed to have some fun, using position players Tommy La Stella, Victor Caratini and Ian Happ to pitch the final 3⅓ innings.
When it was over, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was likening it to "Midland vs. El Paso" in the Texas League and hometown ball.
"It takes me back to the beer leagues," said Maddon, whose first-place Cubs fell to 56-39. "Both teams keep playing because you're supposed to. I loved their effort. Albert (Almora) diving into the bag. We kept playing defense. The guys that went out to pitch had a little fun with it, but nevertheless, we were in the game. You run into these moments sometimes, but I like the way we dealt with it."
The Cardinals scored once in the first inning and four times in the second against Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester, whose record dropped to 12-3 and whose ERA went from 2.58 to 3.14 as he gave up 7 hits and 8 runs in 3-plus innings.
St. Louis scored 7 runs in the fourth, 3 in the sixth, 1 in the seventh and 2 in the eighth.
Carpenter hit a solo homer in the first and a 2-run shot in the second. He hit a pair of doubles in the fourth and a 3-run homer in the sixth, off Brian Duensing.
"I'm having a hard time to come up with words to describe a day like this," Carpenter said. "I think more importantly, and I don't want to get lost in the shuffle, the fact we beat a really good team today with a really good starting pitcher who is having a great season. Obviously, it was a lot of fun personally to have a day like that.
"I can't think outside of tee-ball that I have ever done that, certainly a first for me."
He became the second major-league player with 3 homers and 2 doubles in a game, joining the Cubs' Kris Bryant, who did it on June 27, 2016 at Cincinnati.
"It's fun to see it," Bryant said. "It stinks that it's against us, but he's a heck of a player. Now there's two of us. He's pretty cool to share it with."
Lester admitted he knew something like this was coming, but not because of all the analytics that are out there dissecting his game. Some observers have said Lester has benefited from good defense behind him, citing a gap between his 2.58 ERA coming into the game and his fielding independent pitching (scaled to ERA) of 4.35.
"I don't want to chalk it up to, 'Days like this happen,'" he said. "Mechanically, I think this has kind of been coming. I've been battling myself a little bit, probably for the last 3, maybe 4, starts, just working underneath the ball a little bit too much. It bit me in the butt today. Move on from it. Learn from it."
As for the position players, La Stella worked 1⅓ innings, giving up 3 hits and a run, a homer to Greg Garcia. Caratini pitched an inning, giving up 2 hits and 2 runs, including a 2-run homer to Yairo Munoz.
Happ was the star, working a scoreless ninth, giving up a double to Harrison Bader. Maddon joked he used those three players only after subbing first baseman Anthony Rizzo out of the game so that Rizzo couldn't talk him into pitching.
Happ was beaming, especially about his 0.00 ERA.
"Awesome," he said. "I wish the game would have gone differently and circumstances (were) different, but pretty cool experience to be on the mound at Wrigley and get to throw some pitches. That was cool."