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Pujols’ Star Shines Bright, Cardinals Take 2-1 Lead in Series

Posted By Chaz Ingram On Oct 23 2011 @ 8:19 am In St. Louis Cardinals | 10 Comments

[1]Game three of the 2011 World Series took a turn for the expected last night in Arlington, TX.  St. Louis and Texas turned things up a notch or two from the previous two games in St. Louis and delivered the slugfest fans thought it would be to begin with.   There may be no reasonable explanation for Saturday’s outburst but something put a jolt into these teams. Maybe it was the weather.  It was much warmer in Arlington than it was in St. Louis.  It could have simply been  a change of scenery.  After all the teams were now in the hitter friendly Rangers Park. 

After watching the game Saturday night I am convinced it was neither of the above.  I would venture to say that it was a focused Cardinals player by the name of Albert Pujols.  Pujols, arguably the best player in baseball over the past decade was  center stage of the explosion as he put on perhaps the greatest hitting performance in World Series history and in the process linked his name with some of baseball’s legneds. 

[2]

Cardinals' first baseman Albert Pujols dejected after making error in game two that eventually led to the winning run for Texas

Pujols, who made a critical error in St. Louis‘ loss in game two that led to Texas’ comeback win, in the ninth inning no less, seemed focused and determined to make amends for his contributions to the loss. The usually reliable Pujols, who chose not to address the media after the teams’ devastating 2-1 loss in game two that would have put them up 2-0 in the series, admitted he took his eye off the ball but was not frustrated as some seem to think. “It’s not frustrating. It’s just part of the game,” he told reporters during Friday’s workout at Rangers Ballpark. Pujols was hitless in six at bats in the two games in St. Louis.

[3]

Pujols celebrates after his 3rd HR in the ninth inning of Game 3

Pujols’ night began rather inconspicuously. He grounded out to third base in the top of the first and had accumulated zero hits in six at bats in the 2011 World Series. And that’s when Pujols zeroed in.  He proved why you shouldn’t make too much of it when a guy is hitless in 5 or 6 at bats, particularly a hitter of Pujols’ caliber.  He would get five hits in his next five at bats and just like that Pujols is now batting .417 in the 2011 World Series.

The Cardinals’ slugger went five for six with six RBI’s and three HR leading St. Louis to a 16-7 victory over the Texas Rangers. Pujols tied World Series records in hits, RBI’s and homers with his monstrous night. He is the only National League player to hit three HR in a WS game (joining Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson).  His 14 total bases is a World Series record.

[4]St. Louis took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Allen Craig hit a solo HR. Craig became the first batter since 1959 to get 3 RBI’s in his first three at bats in the post season (Ted Kluszewski of the White Sox). The Cardinals widened the lead in the fourth with a little assistance from first base umpire Ron Kulpa. Cardinals’ leftfielder Matt Holliday hit what should have been a double play ball to short. SS Elvis Andrus flipped to 2B Ian Kinsler who threw the relay wide to first.  Mike Napoli made a leaping catch to prevent a throwing error but managed to make a swiping tag on Holliday before he reached the bag. But Kulpa, who is ironically from St. Louis ruled the runner safe. An RBI double, a two run scoring error by Napoli and an RBI single and four runs later the Redbirds led 5-0.

[5]Cardinals’ starter Kyle Lohse was unable to hold a big lead as the Rangers responded with 3 runs in their half of the fourth. A solo HR by Michael Young and a 2 run HR by Nelson Cruz (his 7th HR of this post season) made the score 5-3 Redbirds. Suddenly the botched call by Kulpa at first base loomed large. Apparently, it wasn’t to be as the Cardinals scored in every inning but the second and third. In the top of the fifth they scored another three runs to regain a five run lead. A key hit in the inning hit was a 2 run double by catcher Yadier Molina (2-3, 4 RBI)

Down but not out the Rangers showed resilience by mounting yet another three run rally in their half of the fifth to close the gap to 8-6. But this night belonged to King Albert as he launched a three run HR in the sixth, a two HR in the seventh and went solo in the ninth to complete the HR trifecta and squash any thoughts of a Rangers comeback.

[6]

Cardinals' hitting coach Mark McGwire congratulates Pujols on his historic night

Rangers’ relievers had given up 11 runs (covering 47 innings) in twelve post season games. On Saturday night they gave up a total of 10 runs in 5 1/3 innings. Rangers’ starter Matt Harrison took the loss while Cards’ reliever Lance Lynn earned the victory in this Texas style shootout at the OK corral, better known as Rangers Park. 

Truly a night to remember. If ever there were any doubts that Pujols didn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with a Babe Ruth, Ted Williams or a Hank Aaron they are forever erased after last night’s game. Win or lose the 2011 World Series,  Albert Pujols is a legend in waiting.

The Cardinals will look to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series as they send Edwin Jackson to the mound for Game Four. The Rangers will counter with lefty Derek Holland.

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