ST. LOUIS -- Where's the hate?
For two teams that supposedly couldn't stand each other when this NLCS began, the Cardinals and Brewers have since retreated from the rhetoric started by Zack Greinke, who kicked things off by labeling Chris Carpenter a "phony" and saying all his teammates felt that way.
Naturally, with Carpenter starting Wednesday's Game 3 at Busch Stadium, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke was asked about Greinke's comments and if they were at all accurate in describing his team's feelings toward the Cardinals' ace.
Roenicke chose to chalk it up to Greinke being Greinke, which was more of an indictment of his own player than anyone in the opposing clubhouse. "You guys know Zack," Roenicke said yesterday, "and you know what he's going to say when you ask questions. It's no big deal. There's a lot made out of it that really isn't there."
As for Carpenter, he seems pretty much immune to whatever is going on around him, be it good or bad. In Game 5 of the Division Series, Carpenter had to face off against his good friend, Roy Halladay, and responded with the first shutout of his postseason career.
For all the talk of growing up together in the Blue Jays organization and their fishing vacations, Carpenter put those emotional ties on hold for a little over two hours in eliminating his buddy from the playoffs in a 1-0 thriller.
The situation this time is different, but Carpenter still employs the same approach. In addition to Greinke's comments, Carpenter had a few run-ins with the Brewers during the regular season.
Back in August, Nyjer Morgan got into a yelling match with Carpenter, and even tossed his wad of tobacco toward him at one point. But those types of incidents, as well as trash-talking, don't seem to have much effect on Carpenter.
"It's about eliminating the distractions," Carpenter said. "If you can't eliminate those on your day, you're going to have a difficult time. I'll go out there and have my game plan and execute the best I can."
Carpenter got tripped up in Game 2 of the Phillies series when manager Tony La Russa decided to start him on three days' rest for the first time in his career. La Russa's big-picture plan was to have his ace available for a potential Game 5, but if not for Cliff Lee's uncharacteristically poor effort, Carpenter's subpar performance (four runs, three innings) would have tanked the Cardinals.
Now that Carpenter has cleared that hurdle and followed it up with his Game 5 masterpiece, the Brewers have a tough task awaiting them. Although Greinke's comments suggested Carpenter may already be in their heads, La Russa disagreed with the portrayal of his No. 1 as some kind of hated figure by the other side.
"I think very few people see Chris as a villain," La Russa said. "I don't think the Brewers see him as a villain. We don't see Morgan as a villain. Carp is out there to beat you. He's going about his business no matter what you say or what you're thinking."
If Greinke was right, then the Brewers may bring more of an edge to Game 3, and it has the potential to be the most combustible of the series so far. But if Carpenter is anything like he was last Friday in Philadelphia, the usually chirpy Brewers probably won't have much to say afterward. And he didn't sound very worried Tuesday.
"The funny thing about this game is if you can keep it simple, it makes it easier," Carpenter said. "The more relaxed you are, the easier it's going to be."