"For me, it's Game 1," he said. "Get ready to go. It's the start of the season, and I've got to get locked in and be consistent all year."
In a year in which Carpenter imposed his will -- and his stuff and command -- on pretty much anyone and everyone who got in his way, the Phillies proved quite unfriendly. Carpenter endured his shortest and arguably worst start of the year against Philadelphia in his second outing of the year.
Carpenter has been a Cardinal for two years, and during that time the Phils have given him more consistent trouble than any other squad. He has a 7.59 ERA in four starts against Philadelphia as a Cardinal. Carpenter has been touched for six home runs at Citizens Bank Park, more than at any road ballpark but Wrigley Field -- where he has many more starts.
Not that that matters to him, either. Nor does the fact that the fences have been moved back at the Phillies' two-year-old stadium.
"You just have to make quality pitches," he said. "Houston is the same way, and I've pitched well in Houston. Some of the balls they hit out, it doesn't matter if they moved them 10 feet or not."
Carpenter's opponent on the mound will be Jon Lieber, and there's an interesting parallel between the two righties. Following the 2002 season, both were available as free agents, and both were coming off surgeries.
The Yankees signed Lieber, who has been solid for New York and Philadelphia since then. The Cardinals liked Lieber, but were more intrigued by the potential Carpenter had for brilliance, and signed him instead.
Over the past two years, that hunch has proved prescient. Lieber has been solid and durable but unspectacular, while Carpenter has been as effective as any starter in the National League.
Best of all, he's absolutely driven to do it again.
"Besides his physical gifts, mentally is probably his best gift," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's tough as nails, consistent, reliable. He's got everything working. Reminds me a lot of Albert
[Pujols]. Albert comes every year, and it's like he's erased the year before and it's all about the next one. It's a great attitude."
RHP Chris Carpenter
21-5, 2.83 ERA in 2005
1-1, 10.61 ERA in 2005 vs. PHI
3-2, 5.56 ERA lifetime vs. PHI
RHP Jon Lieber
17-13, 4.20 ERA in 2005
1-1, 6.00 ERA in 2005 vs. STL
12-7, 4.67 ERA lifetime vs. STL
On the Internet
Cardinals probable lineup|
Official game notes
WPHT AM-1210, WDAS AM-1480 (Español)
Wednesday: at Phillies, 6:05 p.m. CT
Thursday: at Phillies, 2:05 p.m. CT
Friday: at Cubs, 1:20 p.m. CT (Cubs home opener)
Saturday: at Cubs, 1:20 p.m. CT
Sunday: at Cubs, 7:05 p.m. CT
Monday, April 10: vs. Brewers, 3:10 p.m. CT (Cardinals home opener)