It may have been Allen Craig who got the party started, giving him three go-ahead RBI in his first three World Series at bats. But by the end of the day, it was Albert Pujols who was the story as the Cardinals took Game 3 in Arlington 16-7.
It was a game that seemed like it was going to turn into a pitcher’s duel, at least the first time through the lineup. The second time though, that was a completely different story. The teams only scored 1 run in the first 3 innings, but scored 13 combined runs over the next two innings. Then St. Louis took control of what was a 8-6 game after five innings, outscoring the Rangers 8-1 over the game’s final four innings.
The Cardinals, arguably the best road offense in major league baseball this year, showed tonight that they were not intimidated by the Rangers’ offensive abilities in the hitter friendly Ballpark in Arlington. In fact, they showed that their offense was just as potent.
Neither starting pitcher emerged from the fourth inning, though it was Matt Harrison who was supposed to give the Cardinals all he could handle as a left handed pitcher. It turned out to be the other way around.
When the dust settled on the night, it was a devastating blow to the Rangers. We’ve spent the last week hearing about how a National League club, the Cardinals, couldn’t keep up with a powerful offense like the Rangers have in an American League park while they have to use the designated hitter. The Cardinals aren’t supposed to be able to light up the board like they did. But they did.
And Albert, chief among them.
His first home run was a three-run shot in the top of the sixth to make it 10-6. His second was a two-run shot in the top of the seventh to make it 12-6. Then he added a solo shot in the top of the ninth for good measure to put the exclamation point on a 16-7 victory. When all was said and done, Albert had gone 5-for-6 with 3 home runs, 6 RBI, and 14 total bases. All of those tying or setting a record for World Series game performance.
He was just the second player to record 5 hits in a World Series game, joining Paul Molitor who did it in 1982′s Game 1 against St. Louis for Milwaukee.
He became the third player to hit 3 home runs in a World Series game. The others, oh just Reggie Jackson in 1977′s Game 6 against Los Angeles, Babe Ruth in 1928′s Game 4 against St. Louis, and well Ruth again in 1926′s Game 4 against the same St. Louis team.
He became the third player to record 6 RBI in a World Series game, a record, joining Hideki Matsui in 2009′s Game 6 and Bobby Richardson in 1960′s Game 3.
He has the most total bases of any player in any World Series game at 14. Jackson and Ruth both put up 12 total bases in their 3 home run games, the closest anyone came to Pujols in that category.
He’s the only one to put it all together in a single game.
On Friday morning he was criticized for abandoning his team after a devastating ninth inning collapse. This was the type of game that Albert needed to put together. He has a way of dealing with criticism and being the reason his team lost the last game, and usually that way is not good for the other team.
Many in the baseball media are lauding the game as historic. And it was, when you look at the numbers. However, there are others in the sports media who don’t think it felt all that historic or legendary. I think that’s more a testament to what Pujols has done over the last 11 years of his career than to what he did last night.
To a point we’ve come to expect him to be this good. We expect him to be the legendary and amazing player who has been the best player in baseball over the last 10 years and when all is said in done will likely have one of the greatest careers of all time. He’s already in the same breath as Babe Turth,so when he does something that Ruth has done, it doesn’t feel as impressive as it otherwise would be.
While the last couple years for Albert have not been his best, and you can argue have been his worst, he reminds us that while he might not be as good as he once was, he can be as good once as he ever was (Thank you Toby Keith).
Last night Albert Pujols reminded us who he was. He gave us a glimpse of the player we’ve come to expect him to be and isn’t really anymore. There are times, when you watch him play every day, that you begin to forget just how special of a player Albert Pujols is and has been in his career.
I’ve been reminded. Have you?