History. It’s what happens when someone makes Albert Pujols angry before taking to the ball diamond in the World Series.
Or at least it was last night.
Albert, who had gone 0-for-6 against Texas thus far, wasn’t happy after the game two loss. Nor was he happy with the media attention his disappearing act caused after that game. Or the fact that, apparently, he was not going to impact the series at all.
Well, how does the best single offensive performance in World Series history sound as a rebuttal?
But let me back up, for the sake of Master Allen and everyone’s favorite unidentified tortoise.
Craig got the start in right field Saturday night, as Lance Berkman handled designated hitter duties. Craig, who was two-for-two in the series with go-ahead singles in both at bats batted second to Rafael Furcal. With one easy out and no one on, Craig decided the trend must continue. He managed to stay perfect and throw in another RBI on a solo blast.
The Cardinals had scored first in 10 straight playoff games.
But the one-run affairs from games one and two were destined to end.
The Cardinals plated four in the fourth, and while we’re there, yes, I will address the missed call at first base. With Pujols on his way to second, Matt Holliday hit into what should have been a pretty typical double play. No surprise there, right? Well, when the throw to first was off line, Napoli reached down the first base line to drop the tag on a charging Holliday. Not in time, or so said the umpire. Video evidence shows otherwise, but the call stood.
I hate a bad call being a deciding factor, so when the Redbirds scored four times after that call, I figured we’d all be hearing about how the umpires determined this game.
Thank goodness the homerun derby was next!
The Rangers knocked starter Kyle Lohse around with ease in the bottom of the fourth. After three runs on two homers, La Russa, never shy about that bullpen, called on Fernando Salas. Aided by a spot on throw by Matt Holliday and an equally spot on tag from Yadier Molina, he got out of the inning without further damange.
Both clubs put up three runs in the fifth,but it was the sixth inning that started the fireworks (and no, I’m not talking about the ones fired off on Rangers’ homeruns).
Albert stepped to the plate after Ryan Theriot walked (yay, Theriot!) and Rafael Furcal singled. The blast that came next may still be in orbit, looking for a safe place to land. Or there may be nothing left of what was once a quality World Series baseball. But seriously, there’s likely a significant dent in the wall that got in the way, stopping the ball at 423 feet.
And “El Hombre” was just getting warmed up.
In the seventh, it was Allen Craig with the base on balls. Again, it was Pujols with the blast that may have taken out a fan in the fourth row in left center field. If not, the guys hands were at surely stinging!
And then in the ninth, he came to the plate one last time, his club already leading 15-7. But at that point, why not tack on one more? No problem.
Left field again, the third of the night, and a spot in the books next to Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson.
Not too shabby for a guy trying to work out of a slump, eh?
In the post game press conference, Tony La Russa was asked about Albert’s night. In a way that only TLR can, he challenged someone to show him a better single World Series performance. Ruth had three homers, someone said. So did Jackson. But what about 5 hits, 6 runs batted in and 15 total bases, he asked …
Nothing. Because no one has ever put on that kind of display in a World Series game. Ever.
But try as they might, the reporters just could not get Pujols to pat himself on the back. He wouldn’t do it. It’s all about coming to the park ready to play, ready to help the team win, he said.
Right. It’s a team game. Of course.
“But what about you?” they asked.
He’s too smart for that.
“You just said it — it’s not about me,” he said once again. “This is about our ball club. I just thank God that I was able to contribute tonight and help our ball club to win. And hopefully I can do that tomorrow and the rest of the series.”
Okay, fine. But for the rest of us, it was a pretty remarkable display by a man often criticized this season for lack of production in key moments. Who am I kidding — it was a remarkable display by anyone in any year against any team.
If anyone suspected the Cards would walk into Arlington with their heads down, shrinking into the “inevitable” Rangers fairy tale … um, think again.
With 6 of the 16 runs coming off the bat of Albert Pujols, the Redbirds take a 2-1 lead in the series. Lance Lynn — who pitched two and a third — got the win.
In other news, The 23 combined runs match the third highest in World Series history. David Freese has a 13-game hitting streak going. Oh, and the team that won game three in 10 of the last 11 World Series’ has gone on to win it all.
(DISCLAIMER: That is not a presumptuous, jinx-inducing prediction and thus in no way demands the knocking of wood, tossing of salt or any other proverbial un-hex. Not a prediction. Just a fact. Carry on.)
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.