Say the name Daniel Murphy around Cubs fans (who have been around since before they won the 2016 World Series) and expect a dirty look or shade of some sort.
What Murphy did to the Cubs in the 2015 National League Championship Series still haunts the fanbase, even if they did end the championship drought the following fall.
Now, the Cubs are seeing it again and their PTSD is in overdrive.
St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter has been on an unreal tear of late, setting Cardinals franchise records in the process.
Carpenter is sending the bat to Cooperstown, once it breaks. After all ... He’s still using it. #stlcards— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) July 22, 2018
2018 HR at Wrigley Field:— Chris Hrabe (@chrabe) July 22, 2018
Schwarber: 7 (118 AB)
Bryant: 6 (133 AB)
Rizzo: 6 (134 AB)
Matt Carpenter: 6 (Last 12 AB)
Throughout this five-game series at Wrigley Field, Carpenter is 9-for-16 with 6 homers, 10 RBI, 8 runs scored, 3 walks, a pair of doubles and a bunt single to lead off Sunday's game against the Cubs' shift.
"We're seeing this guy probably at his best moment in his life as a baseball player," Joe Maddon said. "My god. We saw it a couple years ago in the playoffs. We're seeing it all over again.
"Similar kind of a swing, not missing anything. It's pretty impressive."
In that 2015 NLCS, Murphy — then with the New York Mets — homered in all 4 games while hitting .529 with a 1.850 OPS, driving in 6 and scoring 6.
To put that in perspective: The Cubs scored only 8 runs as a team in the 4 games.
Maddon and the Cubs don't know what to do to get Carpenter out right now, so they've resorted to walking him whenever possible, like in the second inning Sunday when they just dealt out a free pass to the Cardinals infielder with runners on second and third and two outs.
They also tried out a funky shift in the seventh inning Sunday, with Kris Bryant as a fourth outfielder in left-center, Addison Russell as the only defender on the left side of the infield and Javy Baez playing on the grass in shallow right field. It worked, as Carpenter grounded it to Baez for a routine out.
Beyond that, all the Cubs can do is hope time eventually wears Carpenter down. After all, nobody can stay this hot forever.
Even though Carpenter and the Cardinals are leaving town after Sunday's game, these two team square off against each other again next weekend for the final series in St. Louis.
"For them, it's a blast to watch," Maddon said. "Give the guy credit. What he's working right now is unique. The last time I saw it was Daniel Murphy.
"Before that, I think, was Barry Bonds in the World Series in 2002. Playoffs with Murphy a couple years ago, where the guy — every pitch that is thrown — he's on time, he's on balance with a forceful swing that looks like the ball can go out of the ballpark every time. Bonds, Murphy and now him."
That's some serious company to be in.
So what's led to this insane stretch from Carpenter?
Maybe it's the salsa.
Adam Wainwright built and started a garden at Carpenter’s house, and from that garden has sprouted the peppers and ingredients for the homemade salsa that he’s brought on this road trip and is now crediting with his power flex. “Maybe it’s the salsa,” he said. #stlcards— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) July 22, 2018
When told about that theory, Maddon laughed and said:
"Listen, that makes total sense to me. Can he send a jar over here, please?"