After the wave of Game 2 controversy surrounding the substance on Kenny Rogers' hand, this was precisely what the Fall Classic needed, although the St. Louis Cardinals needed this particular performance a lot more than the Detroit Tigers did.
Great pitching. No controversy. Ideal postseason circumstances. And this approached a classic Fall Classic contest, in that great pitching beat good pitching.
And so it was on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the 2006 World Series. Detroit Tigers starter Nate Robertson was good. But for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chris Carpenter was terrific.
Not only did Carpenter pitch the game of the Redbirds' dreams, there was not a trace of evidence that there was anything on his pitching hand other than the usual skin.
When his right hand was checked in the seventh inning, it was for a cramp, not for a foreign substance. And it was Cardinals head trainer Barry Weinberg conducting the examination as opposed to a member of the umpiring crew.
"The hand thing, my second at-bat [Robertson] threw a couple of balls inside on me," Carpenter said. "The second one, I got jammed and popped up, and it didn't feel real good.
"And it felt kind of funny there from that point on. And I get out there in the seventh, and I think what they're thinking is I just got jammed and I don't know what muscles or tendons or whatever are in there, but it felt kind of funny. It went away pretty quick, and I didn't have a problem the rest of the game."
There was no particular surprise to Carpenter's work. He was the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, and he was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in seven previous postseason starts.
"You know, the best compliment we can give him is we've seen him do this the last two or three years over and over again," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Like last year, I remember [pitching coach] Dave Duncan said -- and he's had so many great pitchers -- it was the most relentless streak of great pitching he'd seen.
"[Carpenter is] so strong between the ears that nothing fazes him. He has a great game, he gets ready for the next one. Besides the physical talent, he's got a good head, good heart, good guts."
But for this Game 3 World Series start there was good timing in Carpenter's performance for the Cardinals in particular and for the game in general. Carpenter was next to untouchable, with eight scoreless innings, giving up just three hits, allowing no walks and striking out six.
The Cards eventually won, 5-0. But even when the Cardinals had only a two-run lead, Carpenter's performance was so efficient -- only 82 pitches over eight innings -- and so commanding that there seemed to be no possibility of a St. Louis loss.
"I would never do anything to take away from Chris Carpenter's performance tonight," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "It was outstanding and obviously, I will add that you have to get some hits now and then off good pitchers. If you don't, you're in trouble. But it was a combination, we didn't swing real good. But you have to tip your hat to Chris Carpenter, and I tip my hat to our starting pitcher."
It was a dominant performance by Chris Carpenter. And it was a clean performance, in every sense of that term, by Chris Carpenter.
It gave the Cardinals the pivotal Game 3, and a 2-1 World Series lead. And it gave the game itself a night off from pitching controversy.
Chris Carpenter could not be hit by the Tigers. But he also could not be questioned by the authorities.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less