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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Carpenter’s record-setting grand slam and six RBI


As St. Louis Cardinals fans may already know, Chris Carpenter pitched and hit his team to a slump-breaking 13-0 win over Cincinnati on Thursday afternoon. While his pitching was fantastic, three hits and a walk with six strikeouts over five shutout innings, the right-handed veteran also personally jump-started his club’s stalling offense.

Batting from the traditional number nine spot in Tony La Russa’s lineup, Carpenter stepped to the plate in the top of the second inning. With one out and one in and the game’s outcome clearly in doubt, the bases were loaded against his former teammate Kip Wells. That is, they were until Carpenter cleared the bases with a grand slam over the left field wall.

In the fifth with two runners on, Carp again emptied the bases with a double down the right field line off a good hitting pitcher himself, Micah Owings, for his fifth and sixth RBI of the afternoon. After collecting three more outs in the bottom of the frame, and with a nine-run lead, his day was done.

Ironically, Carpenter missed five weeks earlier this season due to an oblique injury suffered while taking a swing at the plate. The resulting disabled list stint could have cost the 34-year-old what may be one of his final chances to win a second Cy Young Award.

With his six RBI, Carpenter set a St. Louis single-game record for a pitcher since at least 1954, passing Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. At the age of 37, Gibby collected five during the first game of a July, 1973 double-header, four having come via a grand slam. He also had three other four-RBI games, more than any Cardinals pitcher. In only one of the 14 record games did the Cardinals lose, with Rick Wise on the mound in 1973

Most RBI by a pitcher, game, Cardinals 1954-2009

# Hitter Date Opp Reslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI
1 Chris Carpenter 10/1/2009 @CIN W 13-0 3 3 1 2 1 0 1 6
2 Bob Gibson 1973-07-26(1) NYM W 13-1 5 5 1 2 0 0 1 5
3 Woody Williams 6/5/2003 TOR W 13-5 4 4 0 1 0 1 0 4
4 Kent Mercker 9/2/1998 @FLA W 14-4 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 4
5 Donovan Osborne 9/7/1996 SDP W 8-3 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 4
6 Bob Forsch 8/10/1986 PIT W 5-4 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 4
7 Ray Burris 5/24/1986 ATL W 9-5 3 3 0 2 1 0 0 4
8 Tim Conroy 5/8/1986 SDP W 13-3 5 3 1 2 1 0 0 4
9 Joaquin Andujar 5/15/1984 ATL W 9-1 4 3 1 1 0 0 1 4
10 Bob Gibson 9/27/1974 @CHC W 10-4 3 2 0 1 1 0 0 4
11 Rick Wise 8/21/1973 @ATL L 7-11 3 3 1 1 0 0 1 4
12 Bob Gibson 9/29/1965 @SFG W 8-6 4 4 3 3 0 0 1 4
13 Bob Gibson 8/26/1961 SFG W 8-5 4 2 0 1 1 0 0 4
14 Tom Poholsky 5/20/1954 @PIT W 17-4 5 3 1 3 0 0 0 4

On Thursday, Carpenter also tied four others for the third-most RBI by an MLB pitcher in a game in at least the last 55 years. Ironically, the last one to do it prior to Carp was Owings. Former Atlanta pitcher Tony Cloninger, who later finished his career with St. Louis, holds the major league record with nine. Interestingly, in all seven record-breaking games, the winning team’s offense scored in double-digits.

Most RBI by a pitcher, game, MLB, 1954-2009

Rk Hitter Date Tm Opp Reslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI
1 Tony Cloninger 7/3/1966 ATL @SFG W 17-3 5 5 2 3 0 0 2 9
2 Robert Person 6/2/2002 PHI MON W 18-3 4 3 3 2 0 0 2 7
T3 Chris Carpenter 10/1/2009 STL @CIN W 13-0 3 3 1 2 1 0 1 6
T3 Micah Owings 8/18/2007 ARI @ATL W 12-6 5 5 4 4 1 0 2 6
T3 Blue Moon Odom 1969-05-04(2) OAK SEP W 11-7 3 3 1 3 1 0 1 6
T3 Dave Giusti 8/21/1966 HOU CIN W 11-0 4 4 0 2 2 0 0 6
T3 Babe Birrer 7/19/1955 DET BAL W 12-4 2 2 2 2 0 0 2 6

Carp’s crowning blow, the grand slam, was the seventh by a Cardinals pitcher since at least 1954 and the first since Kent Mercker did it in September, 1998. In fact, the last three grand slams by a Cardinals pitcher occurred during the final month-plus of the season.

Nothing against the opposing pitchers who yielded the grannies, but no Hall of Famers are among the victims. In a final factoid, I found it interesting that not a one of the seven occurred when the Cardinals were behind.

Grand slams by a pitcher, Cardinals, 1954-2009

Date Batter Opp Pitcher Score Inn Out RBI
10/1/2009 Chris Carpenter @CIN Kip Wells ahead 2-0 t 2 1 4
9/2/1998 Kent Mercker @FLA Jesus Sanchez ahead 3-0 t 4 0 4
9/7/1996 Donovan Osborne SDP Andy Ashby tied 1-1 b 5 1 4
8/10/1986 Bob Forsch PIT Mike Bielecki ahead 1-0 b 5 0 4
5/15/1984 Joaquin Andujar ATL Jeff Dedmon ahead 5-1 b 8 2 4
1973-07-26(1) Bob Gibson NYM John Strohmayer ahead 6-1 b 5 0 4
8/21/1973 Rick Wise @ATL Roric Harrison ahead 3-0 t 3 2 4

Thanks to Tom Orf for quickly pulling the data tables.

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