CHICAGO — I imagine Thursday night's Cardinals/Cubs game was fun for someone not directly involved with either team.
It was baseball drama at its best, and truly great theater. That is unless you're a Cardinals or Cubs fan who likely gnawed their fingernails down to nubs over the course of the two innings.
Anthony Rizzo gets the Kirk Gibson treatment and goes deep, emerging Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty dazzles without a trace of nerves, Carlos Martinez remains the craziest roller-coaster ride in St. Louis and of all people Matt Carpenter rides to the rescue to save the day against Craig Kimbrel back from injury.
Now, of course it'll only remain a seminal moment in the history of the 2019 Cardinals if the team is able to hang on to the division crown, but in the moment it felt special.
The much-maligned Carpenter is slashing just .227/.334/.389 in what's easily been his worst season in the big leagues..
Heck, he wasn't even supposed to be in Thursday night's game. If not for a Kolten Wong injury he might have been relegated to just a pinch-hit assignment.
But Carpenter was able to recapture some 2018 Wrigley Field magic when his team needed him most.
You remember last year in Chicago, right?
Carpenter kicked off his insane second half hot streak in the Friendly Confines with an insane five games in July in Chicago (due to a double-header) where he slugged six home runs and drove in 10 runs in just 17 at-bats.
He was able to channel a little bit of that magic on Thursday night, despite his dismal season statistics.
Now, those season stats may be pretty grim, but so far in September, things have been looking better for Carpenter.
In 27 September at-bats, Carpenter is slashing .333/.406/.593/.999 with a home run and six RBI. He has seen his role diminish and Tommy EDman receive the majority of starts at third in this later stretch of the year, but Carpenter has started to make the most of his later-game appearances.
No, it's not the insane on-fire Carpenter we saw in the back half of last season, but it's a move in the positive direction.
And if Kolten Wong is sidelined for an extended amount of time, Carpenter is going to find his way back into the Cardinals lineup on a regular basis.
We'll see if there's any of that magic he displayed Thursday night at Wrigley left in the tank.