Three years after the Blue Jays removed Chris Carpenter from their big-league roster and told him he’d have to go to the minors if he wanted to remain with the organization, the pitcher returned to Toronto as a member of the Cardinals and showed why giving up on him was a mistake.
On June 14, 2005, Carpenter faced the Blue Jays for the first time since leaving them. In one of his most dominating performances, Carpenter pitched a one-hit shutout for a 7-0 Cardinals victory that was as much personal as it was professional.
The masterpiece at Toronto helped establish Carpenter as a pitcher who got big wins in the big games for St. Louis. Carpenter posted a 95-44 regular-season record and 10-4 postseason mark (including 3-0 in the World Series) as a Cardinals starter from 2004-2012.
On Aug. 27, 2016, Carpenter will join players Joe Torre and Terry Moore and executive Sam Breadon in being inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. Carpenter and Torre were elected in balloting by fans.
Carpenter began his professional career with the Blue Jays. He was selected by them with the 15th pick in the first round of the 1993 amateur draft, just ahead of pitcher Alan Benes, who was chosen by the Cardinals with the 16th selection.
Four years later, Carpenter made his big-league debut. He had a 49-50 record for Toronto from 1997-2002.
In October 2002, the Blue Jays removed Carpenter, who had undergone shoulder surgery, from their big-league roster and offered him a spot at Class AAA Syracuse. Instead, Carpenter chose to become a free agent and signed with the Cardinals.
He joined the big-league club in 2004 after spending 2003 working his shoulder into shape.
After posting a 15-5 record in 28 starts for the 2004 Cardinals, Carpenter established himself as the staff ace in 2005. He took an 8-4 record into the start at Toronto.
Carpenter’s return to Toronto drew a Tuesday night crowd of 37,536, including actor Bruce Willis. One fan held up a sign that read: “Thanks for four years of frustrating mediocrity, Carpenter.”
Carpenter responded to the wise guy with a tip of his cap.
Mostly, he let his pitching do the talking.
Effectively mixing a four-seam fastball, curve and changeup, Carpenter baffled the Blue Jays. “My stuff was good and I thought I kept them off balance pretty good,” Carpenter said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “He had movement all over, mostly down.”
Gregg Zaun, drawing a leadoff walk in the third, was the first Blue Jays batter to reach base. The next batter, Orlando Hudson, grounded into a double play.
The Blue Jays were hitless until, with two outs in the sixth, rookie Russ Adams pulled a ball that landed barely inside the right-field foul line for a double.
Carpenter then retired the last 10 batters in a row.
“In a game of inches, he came within a couple of inches of throwing a no-hitter,” Larry Walker, the Cardinals’ designated hitter, said of Carpenter.
The one-hitter was the first of Carpenter’s big-league career. It also was the 19th one-hitter by a Cardinals pitcher and the first since Vicente Palacios achieved the feat for St. Louis against the Astros in 1994.
“He wanted to come back (to Toronto) and make an impression,” La Russa said of Carpenter. “He did.”
John Gibbons, Blue Jays manager, told the Associated Press, “He throws downhill at you. He throws 94 mph with that big old hook that he can control. It’s tough to hit that.”
Carpenter was supported by four Cardinals home runs: Walker hit a pair of two-run home runs, Reggie Sanders hit a solo shot and Albert Pujols also had a two-run home run. Boxscore
Carpenter pitched one more one-hitter. It occurred on Sept. 7, 2009, in a 3-0 Cardinals victory over the Brewers at Milwaukee. The lone hit off Carpenter was a fifth-inning double by Jody Gerut.
On June 23, 2010, at Toronto, Carpenter faced the Blue Jays for the second and last time in his career. He pitched eight scoreless innings and got the win in a 1-0 Cardinals victory.
Matt Holliday broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, RBI-single in the top of the ninth off Kevin Gregg, who had relieved starter Ricky Romero.
Ryan Franklin earned the save, yielding a single and a walk _ but no run _ in the bottom of the ninth.
Previously: Mike Matheny helped Chris Carpenter join Cards