Carpenter decision looms for Cardinals

Updated: October 27, 2011, 11:21 AM ET
By Buster Olney

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals still have to get through Game 6 today to get to a Game 7, and that won't happen unless somebody batting behind Albert Pujols takes advantage of the opportunities generated by Rangers manager Ron Washington's decision to pitch around The Machine. Lance Berkman will get the first chance tonight, now that he has been moved to the cleanup spot.

But if the Cardinals force a Game 7, this will set up a war of Old School and New School, of gut feeling versus statistical data.

Cards manager Tony La Russa could pick Kyle Lohse to start Game 7, or Jake Westbrook, whose sinker was excellent in his relief appearance earlier in this series. But he would have the option of choosing ace Chris Carpenter to start Game 7, and everything about that would probably feel right to La Russa -- the best gut call. Carpenter is a team leader, a staff leader, a big hoss of a guy who has already told La Russa that he is available. Translated: Carpenter wants the ball. And in his career, Carpenter is 6-0 with a 2.03 ERA in postseason starts in St. Louis.

But the numbers say this: Picking Carpenter would be folly.