10/10/2013 5:21 P.M. ET
Carpenter eager for hits to start falling
By Chad Thornburg / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The production hasn't quite arrived for Matt Carpenter, but there were some positive signs Wednesday that it could be just around the corner.
In Game 5 of the National League Division Series, Carpenter had a double erased by a diving catch in left field and saw another deep ball caught just short of the center-field wall. Both were good signs for Carpenter, who is still searching for his rhythm at the plate during the postseason. He batted just .053 (1-for-21) with one walk and six strikeouts against the Pirates.
"He looks like he's taking the Matt Carpenter bats that we've been spoiled with seeing all season," manager Mike Matheny said. "This guy takes as professional an at-bat as anybody I've seen in a long time. ... We've talked about him trying to do too much or putting too much pressure on himself, but there are also times that this is just a hard game. It's tough trying to figure out this hitting thing, and you fall into those ruts every once in a while. The good ones don't stay in there very long, and you can see Matt Carpenter is on his way out.
After playing his way into the NL MVP conversation by leading the Majors in hits (199), runs (126) and multihit games (63) while batting .318 in just his first season at second base, Carpenter's production stalled at the end of September. He recorded his 199th hit on Sept. 27, but he was held hitless in his last eight at-bats to fall short of a milestone 200th hit. His slump carried over into the postseason, during which he has reached base just twice in five games.
"That's the game of baseball; you go through ups and downs," Carpenter said. "I've had plenty of slumps in my career. This certainly won't be the final one. It's just a little more magnified because it's during the postseason. These are things that happen. All you can do is just continue to go out and put together quality at-bats and try to hit the ball hard and play good defense, do those sorts of things to help the team win."
The 27-year-old second baseman is eager for a fresh start against the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series and is confident his numbers will trend in a positive direction.
"Really, there's no rhyme or reason for it. I think hitting, sometimes you can make it look easier than it really is," he said. "That's' just the way the game goes sometimes. Sometimes you can't get out. Sometimes you can't find a way to get on base. I'm going through one of those stretches, but the good news is, and I've always been this way, you know it finds a way to even out. I'm looking forward to getting to the park [Friday] and will hopefully even things out."
Cards to stay with same roster for NLCS
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals will maintain the same active roster for the National League Championship Series, leaving injured first baseman Allen Craig off once again as he continues to rehab his sprained left foot.
Though manager Mike Matheny said Craig is expected to be unavailable for the NLCS, he did not rule out the All-Star first baseman returning should the club advance to the World Series.
"We look forward to watching him progress, you just never know," Matheny said. "Obviously, we'd love to have him be an active part, but we put a lot of responsibility on our guys even though they're not on the active roster. You've seen Chris Carpenter always involved. You're seeing Rafael Furcal the same way, guys that are still trying to contribute. And Allen Craig is doing the same thing.
"It's just difficult for a guy that's not used to being in that situation. But once again, he's continuing to get better, so we don't know what he'll look like going forward. But it looks like our roster is going to be the same."
The Cardinals carried 12 pitchers and 13 position players on the 25-man roster in the NLDS, a group that included 10 rookies.
• Major League Baseball announced the game times for the NLCS on Thursday. The Cardinals and Dodgers will open the series Friday at 7:30 p.m. CT in St. Louis with Game 2 scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The series will continue in Los Angeles with Games 3 and 4 at 7:00 p.m. CT. If necessary, Game 4 in Los Angeles will start at 3:00, and both Games 6 and 7 in St. Louis will be 7:30 starts. The NLCS will be aired on TBS, with alternate angle coverage via Postseason.TV.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.