i noted yesterday that the astros seem to have jason is'hausen's number. they do not have chris carpenter's. over the last two years carp is 4-1 against them with a 1.37 era; he's held the 'stros to a .201 batting average over that span. he's been particularly hard on the astros at minute-maid park, where he's 3-0 against them with a 0.84 era and a .206 average against. in the course of extracting that data i found this boxscore from last season -- a third carpenter-clemens duel, every bit as compelling as this year's two showdowns.
did last night's game settle the cy young issue? as much as the nation's sportswriters worship clemens, their bias must have its limits. carp now has pert near twice as many wins as the rocket and has beat him twice head to head; he leads the league in wins, complete games and innings pitched, and is second in strikeouts and shutouts. clemens only tops him in one category, era. clemens does pitch in a tougher park than carpenter and has suffered much worse luck; while many have noted that houston's weak offense has cost roger a number of wins, it has been largely overlooked that all three of the cards' unlikely 9th-inning rallies this year -- the 7-run comeback vs the reds may 2, eckstein's walkoff slam vs the braves in early august, and the 5-run rally against the giants on the last homestand -- got carp off the hook for a loss. not that 20-7 is a bad record, but it isn't quite as gaudy as 20-4. . . . . you could argue that carp, on the merits, is a 20-7 pitcher and clemens, with decent run support, would be an 18-4 pitcher or thereabouts. you could factor in the ballparks, and that would work in clemens' favor too. and if houston wins the wild card, that will probably also win roger some votes -- some people will credit him for being a difference-maker who got his team over the top, while dismissing carp as just another cog in a dominant machine. i think there are voters who want so badly to recognize clemens one more time that they will jump through as many hoops as necessary to do it. should carp get dinged a time or two during the september tune-up season, and should clemens get hot and lift his win total to 15 . . . . . i just don't think it's over yet.
but if carp holds his form and/or clemens finishes with, say, 14 victories . . . well like i said, sportswriter bias must have its limits. it has to . . . . . doesn't it?
in perusing carp's game log at mlb.com, i spotted something kind of intriguing. in late may and early june, carpenter briefly started getting the ball up. in his first 9 starts, he got 87 groundouts and only 35 flyouts, a ratio of 2.48:1. in his last two may starts and first two june starts, he actually got more flyouts (27) than groundouts (24). he didn't pitch badly -- far from it, he was 2-2 with a 2.25 era -- but batters hit .272 off him in that stretch, vs. .216 for the season as a whole. immediately after that string of four games, carp started getting groundballs again and became unhittable, giving up just 40 hits and 9 runs over his next 84 innings. it could just be random data, but it also could indicate that somebody spotted something -- a mechanical thing, a pitch-selection pattern -- and carp made an adjustment, which in turn made him a cy young candidate.