"The starting pitching, we showed a little inexperience there," manager Davey Johnson said. "I mean, not going right after hitters — and also not pitching."
Washington now needs to rebound from that 12-4 loss in Game 2 at St. Louis, although the Nationals prefer to focus on having taken one of their two road games at the outset of the series.
Going up against Carpenter will be his former teammate Jackson, the only starting pitcher on Washington's roster who ever had participated in a playoff game before this season. He was a member of the Cardinals' championship club in 2011, and his overall postseason mark is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA.
He went 10-11 this season, but Washington's record in Jackson's starts was only 12-19.
"It's high expectations on me. I have high expectations on myself, as well," the right-hander said. "This is one of those games where you go out and you try to lead by example."
That's certainly the sort of thing the Cardinals expect from Carpenter, who won the 2005 Cy Young Award and helped St. Louis win a title the following year.
His mere presence on the diamond Wednesday is a big deal to his teammates.
"I saw that first hand, all the time he spent in the training room and weight room and getting back to the point, and you can't help but feed off that," said Cardinals center field John Jay, who made a spectacular wall-crashing catch in Game 2. "Especially a guy (who's) been there before. It would have been easy for him, as someone who has two rings and he's made his money in this game, to say 'You know what? I'll be back next year.' But he wanted to be out there for us."
Strasburg would certainly prefer to still be pitching for Washington.
But Rizzo said Tuesday "there's no sense of thinking" about that possibility at this point.
"We love the pitching staff we have. It's the best pitching staff in major league baseball, with and without Stephen," Rizzo continued, standing near the red-white-and-blue postseason logo painted on his ballpark's grass for the first time, "and these are the guys that we have in the playoff series, and we're going to go forward with them."
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