First baseman Albert Pujols created a contretemps of sorts when he didn't make himself available to the media after he committed a key error in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series. He was front and center Saturday night, though, after perhaps the greatest World Series game ever by one player.
His five hits in Game 3
"I don't think anybody had any bad at-bats on our team," said Pujols.
The Cardinals scored the
most runs they ever have scored in a World Series game in a 16-7 win, surpassing
the 13-1 drubbing they laid on
And, yes, the Cardinals did score 10 other runs that Pujols did not drive in.
"A lot of credit goes to those guys in that clubhouse out there," said hitting coach Mark McGwire. "They're relentless."
Combined, the two clubs
totaled 23 runs, breaking the highest total for any Cardinals World Series game.
The Cardinals lost the first game of the 2004 World Series at
They subsequently lost that World Series in four straight games although that Cardinals' offense generally was considered the best of any Tony La Russa-managed Cardinals team. But this one might rival it.
That 2004 club, which won 105 regular-season games, had three players with 34 or more homers in Pujols (46), center fielder Jim Edmonds (42) and third baseman Scott Rolen (34).
This Cardinals team didn't enjoy the same health as the 2004 club, so some of the offensive numbers weren't quite as good. But this team had six regulars bat between the .296 of left fielder Matt Holliday and the .305 of catcher Yadier Molina.
Pujols had 37 homers, right fielder Lance Berkman had 31 and left fielder Holliday hit 22 in an injury-plagued season. And outfielder Allen Craig, the "X" factor in this series for the Cardinals, batted .315 when he wasn't healing from a broken right kneecap.
Dave McKay was the first-base coach for both the 2004 and 2011 teams.
"That was a pretty good offense," said McKay. "But this is a pretty nice offense, too.
"This club here, when the guys are all healthy, might be a better offensive club than that one. Yeah, I'd lean toward this one."
It was thought that when
the Series got to
Counting Saturday's Game 3 triumph, the Cardinals have won 50 games away from home this season. They are 50-38 on the road and 49-39 on the road.
Related article at The Cardinal Nation Blog: "Pujols ties MLB greats with three-homer performance"
RHP Lance Lynn, the
second reliever used in place of RHP Kyle Lohse, got the win with 2 1/3 innings
of one-run relief. But
RHP Kyle Lohse still is winless in nine postseason appearances, including four starts, three this season. Staked to a 5-0 lead, he allowed two homers in the fourth and didn't make it through the inning.
RHP Edwin Jackson, who
will work Game 4 of the World Series for the Cardinals on Sunday night, has
pitched, in order, six, 4 1/3 and two innings in his first three postseason
starts. The Cardinals have won all three, but
RF Allen Craig, a
pinch-hitting hero in the first two games of the Series, got a start in the
outfield in Game 3 while Lance Berkman served as the DH. Craig promptly homered
in his first at-bat as a regular. Manager Tony La Russa said Craig would might
play outfield again in one of the next two games while the Series is in
2B Ryan Theriot got his first start of the Series. Theriot, who led off much of the season, served as manager Tony La Russa's "second leadoff man," hitting ninth, and had a hit, scored a run and drove in another.
C Yadier Molina, who, like 1B Albert Pujols, had been hitless in the first two games of the Series, knocked in four runs with his first two hits, both doubles.
3B David Freese made Cardinals history. His two hits extended his postseason hitting streak to 13 games. It is the longest in Cardinals postseason history, surpassing the 12-game streaks by Cs Molina and Mike Matheny.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 - Hits 1B Albert Pujols had in the first two games of the World Series. He then went 5-for-6 with three home runs in Game 3.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he took over Reggie's name."
- Hitting coach Mark McGwire on 1B Albert Pujols' three-homer, five-hit night in Game 3 of the World Series.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season. Wainwright was getting closer to throwing a full-strength bullpen session in September, but he will not be allowed to throw his signature curveball until next year.
NEXT GAME – World Series Game 4
Sun., October 23: vs. RANGERS: Edwin Jackson vs. Derek Holland, 7:05 P.M. CDT (FOX Network, ESPN Radio, KMOX).
VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM
Tony La Russa, Lance Lynn and Albert Pujols speak after the Saturday's big win and La Russa's milestone.
Matt Holliday, David Freese, Yadier Molina, and Lance Berkman discuss their Game 3 win over the Rangers.
Tony La Russa's post-game comments (from MLB and ASAP Sports)
Q. You've been a part of many, many games, many postseason games. Where does Albert's night ranks for you among your highlights.
TONY LA RUSSA: There was a couple times in that dugout about the middle of the game somebody kept saying, 'He's having a day he'll never forget,' and that's kind of what he did. What did he get, five hits, three home runs? And against that club, there wasn't any of that production we didn't need. He's the latest example of how great he is. You saw it tonight.
Q. Do you remember who was saying that, have a night
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't know. One of the things that we talk about on the road is to make sure there's a lot of noise in the dugout, that way you feel you know there's 40,000, 50,000 for them, so I'm not sure who said it.
Q. And Albert said something to the effect of he thought about maybe asking you, give Gerald Laird an at-bat, but he said you would keep him in. Did that ever cross your mind for that last at-bat, maybe give someone else a chance?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, actually Gerald was going to hit for Berkman. He was on deck when the last out was made. I don't think we as a team can give the Rangers more respect than leaving Albert and Holliday -- I mean, it wasn't -- I will say in the ninth with a nine-run lead, I felt like we were -- before that, they're so explosive. That's why all those guys stayed in and kept trying, because we knew how dangerous they were.
Q. The first two games were very low-scoring games, and then this slugfest by both squads. How do you assess that? Was it just time for both teams to break out? Was it the ballpark? What is your assessment?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think the weather in St. Louis the first two games, it wasn't easy to pitch because the ball was slick, but you get warmer than the hitters do. There were some balls that were hit hard that did not go out of that ballpark. So that cold weather definitely benefitted the pitchers, worked against the hitters. And here, I mean, when it's warm like this and not really humid, the ball has a lot of carry. For both teams, but you don't get away with much in conditions like this.
Q. I guess congratulations for you are in order, too, because you passed Bobby Cox into second place in all-time postseason wins tonight, with only Joe ahead of you. I know you don't like to talk about yourself much, but what kind of perspective does that put on your entire career?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I wasn't really aware until somebody congratulated me, one of the owners. The same one I get all the time. I've never been in a bad situation. Not one, in 30 years of ownership, front office, players, so I really don't take it personal. All the guys that I know that I really respect in my situation, that's what they would have. So I've been lucky, and I don't take it for granted.
Q. Where is Jon Jay at for you right now? It looks like he's struggling at the late in the playoffs here.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he's facing some good pitching. But his stroke is good, he's got a ton of confidence, he never panics. He'll face another one tomorrow and the next day. I watch him close, and there isn't anything about him that he's hanging his head. He's just get being pitched tough and tomorrow he's liable to get a big hit to help us compete.
Q. Your thoughts on your bullpen tonight? Looked like they settled things down after a while.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's been the story a lot in the postseason. Our bullpen did it. I mean, I really thought a guy that we've pitched someone that's got great guts is Salas. And you could tell that it just wasn't a day to push him. I don't think he was quite as strong. Lance was well rested, and even though they came in and got a run, they didn't give it the big number. Lance won't pitch until we go back to St. Louis. But that's a big challenge because you cannot make a mistake. I mean, they kept swinging. And Dotel did it again today, he got five outs, and he has done that ever since he joined our club.
It turned out great. We saved some pitching for tomorrow. But there were some very pressure-filled innings for Salas and for Lynn and even with Dotel in there there was no certainty. They have been doing that so consistently. That's why we have a shot.
Q. In the context of how this happened tonight, do you think this might have been Albert's greatest moment yet of his career? I mean, 14 total bases in a World Series game.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, I can remember Game 1 in '06, he takes Verlander. That was a big one to say, 'Hey, we've got a shot.' You're talking about the World Series, but he hit that Lidge home run, we were done. But I just kind of reclaim for all of us that he's been great for a long time. But this has got to be the greatest, at least one of the greatest ... his story to pull it out, but has somebody had a better day than this ever in a World Series? Babe Ruth did? He got more than five hits?
Q. He had three home runs twice, and Reggie had three on three successive pitches.
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, with Babe and Reggie, that's good company right there. That's a first, right? How does the total bases rank? I'd say that's World Series history.
Q. As balanced as your team is, obviously to get as far as you guys have, deep lineup, bullpens pitched well, how much more dangerous do you guys become to beat now if something has kicked in with Albert, and this is not just a one day thing, to be able to see him carry a game like that?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's the kind of postseason he's had. He had a terrific September. Right there the last few days he was one hit, one RBI short of continuing his amazing streak, but the whole Philadelphia, Milwaukee, he's been a real good hitter. I do think I wasn't in here a lot when he was talking, but he always gives credit to the table setters, but especially Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, and now David Freese is making his mark. You have to go after Albert. You put him on base, and you're going to give up a crooked number.
He's been swinging well the whole postseason.
Q. What have you seen from Kyle tonight? You guys had a lead and then the fourth inning he kind of gave some of it back.
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, what Dave and I always look for, you see the guy that comes out at the start of the game, and if it's good, then you watch and watch and watch. In the fourth inning he was different. I don't know why he was different. I just saw that he was different, and that's what you decide on. I don't know how to explain it.
Q. In his three postseason starts, all three have kind of had the same pattern where he's had a couple good innings and then it's kind of fallen apart for him. Is there any trend?
TONY LA RUSSA: Here again, you get one scoreless inning in the postseason against one of the best clubs in Major League Baseball, you've got to be good, and he's done it more than once. But he was different in the fourth inning. It would be a good question for him to ask himself, and I'm sure Dunc will talk to him about it because he wants to be able to build on that.
Q. My apologies if you've been asked this specific question, but you've been in the game a long time, you've seen many things. I know you don't like to overstate things, but in a World Series is this the greatest single offensive performance you've seen by Albert?
TONY LA RUSSA: By Albert? Well, we just went through this in the sense that according to some of the stats, it's the greatest of any World Series in 120 years. 14 total bases and the five hits, four innings in a row and five hits? I mean, this is -- yeah, I'd say it's well, I think the best thing to do is you make that statement and ask somebody, OK, show me one that was better. I think it would be hard to do.
Q. When you see what he does tonight, and knowing the uncertainty what's going to happen once this is over, how difficult is that for you to ...
TONY LA RUSSA: Are you talking about 2012?
TONY LA RUSSA: We have a pact. When we put our hands together, we're not thinking about anything except the 2011 season and the postseason. I don't want to get spanked when I get in there.
I'll tell you, and it's a real good P.S. to this, and I've learned it over 11 years with Albert, he will probably think about this and enjoy it, and he should. If you see him tomorrow, you would never, ever suspect that he did this tonight. He will be into his routine, getting ready. He is so strong in his mind, and we'll see. I know Holland has got real good stuff, but Albert will go about it in a way that's part of his greatness.
Albert Pujols post-game comments
Q. You said yesterday you felt good about the way you were swinging the bat, maybe not getting the results, but to get the results that way tonight, does it reinforce everything you thought about the way you were swinging?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Well, I'll tell you, I felt that I swung the bat pretty good the last couple of games and just -- that's the way baseball goes. It is what it is, and you just have to make sure you don't get frustrated and just make sure that you bounce back the next day, that whatever it takes our ballclub to win. Obviously it's a blessing to be able to do that today.
I mean, there's so many guys in the lineup that had a huge night, starting with Allen. Right away in the first inning, he kind of took the crowd out of the way. You know, Yadi, another huge night. It's unbelievable. The guy is not only the best catcher in the game, but he also is the best clutch hitter that I've ever seen. The guy is amazing.
It was just a great team win. Everybody contributed. We had good quality at bats. We just took our game plan out there, and we executed pretty much.
Q. How does it feel to be in the same category of Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Those guys are great players, and to do it at that level and on this stage is amazing. But at the same time I didn't walk into the ballpark today thinking that I was going to have a night like this. I walked to the ballpark with the attitude that I have every day to help this ballclub to win, and I was able to do that, defensively and offensively.
Just pretty special, you know, but at the same time, you need to enjoy this for a minute and be ready to play tomorrow. They're going to be ready to play, the Rangers. They have a unbelievable ballclub. And you saw today, we scored some runs, they bounced back and scored some runs, too. I thought it showed a lot of heart.
Q. Along those lines, 14 total bases, nobody has ever done that in a World Series game before. The RBIs, the home runs, arguably the greatest offensive performance in a World Series game ever. What do you think about that and how does that make you feel?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Well, that will show you the kind of ballclub that we have. I think everybody was just concentrating on the tough loss that we had in St. Louis a couple of days ago and how we were going to bounce back. We know what kind of ballclub we have. I think we've been through so much this year. I told you guys yesterday when I was talking to the media. It looked like another game that we should have won but it didn't happen, but we flipped the page and came ready to play today.
We had our hitters' meeting, and we went through how we were going to approach the pitcher. I don't think anybody had any bad at bats on our team, and we just executed pretty well. There's so many guys, like I say, in the lineup that had some big at bats, and we just keep scoring runs. You don't make 27 outs in the bottom of the ninth and this game is not over. Just as quick as we scored four runs, they came back and scored three, and we scored two or three more and they scored two. That's how this game goes.
Q. Understanding what your team is about and the great teammates you have, still, you individually, greatest World Series performance offensively ever. I know you like to talk about the team, but what about you on this night?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Well, you just said, it's not about me. This is about our ballclub. I just thank God that I was able to contribute tonight and help our ballclub to win, and hopefully I can do that tomorrow and the rest of the series. It takes 25 guys on the roster, it takes 30 some guys that we're carrying on this ballclub, and it's about representing the Cardinals and to be able to contribute. I'm just blessed that I was able to do that tonight and be part of those nine guys or ten guys that were on the field.
Q. You have been obviously one of the best hitters, best players in baseball for your whole career. This game will obviously elevate you even more. Are you comfortable with that as the individual focus as one of the faces of baseball and that this will catapult you to a higher level?
ALBERT PUJOLS: To tell you the truth, I won't lie, I don't concentrate on numbers. I just said it, this is not an individual game; this is a team effort. That's what I try to do every day, to go out there and help my ballclub to win however I can. Hopefully at the end of my career I can look back and say, wow, what a game it was in Game 3 in 2011, but as of right now, it's great to get this win and just move on pretty much and get ready to play tomorrow.
Q. Did you allow yourself even the luxury up eight runs in the ninth inning to go up there looking for a third home run?
ALBERT PUJOLS: No. You know, I think I had so many at bats in my career that I learned better, I know better than that. You can even try in BP, try and hit a ball out of the park, and it's pretty tough. When you're swinging the bat well, you feel good at the plate. All you try and do is just put a good swing. Don't try to expand the strike zone, and hopefully let the barrel of the bat catch the ball and maybe go out of the park. But I wasn't thinking about it. I wasn't even going to ask Tony, do you want Laird get one or pinch hit and go play first base? But knowing Tony he wasn't going to take me out of the game.
But like I said, just glad that I was able to contribute tonight. It's a big win.
Q. Could you take us through the three home runs, the pitch sequence, what you hit.
ALBERT PUJOLS: Fastball up, 1 1 count, and I was able to get the head out. And then fastball middle in my second one. And the last one I think it was a cutter, and I was able to get the barrel out and put some good swings.
Q. You're used to getting pitched around a lot. Were you surprised, first of all, that you got some pitches that you could actually hit out tonight? And second part, do you expect to be pitched a little bit differently tomorrow?
ALBERT PUJOLS: The second part, you know what, I've got so many great hitters behind me right now that I actually just am going to come to the ballpark and do the same thing that I did today, just get ready to play and don't think about the performance that I had the night before. It's about what can I do tomorrow for this ballclub. After tonight, that's pretty much what it is.
And then what was the other one?
Q. Were you surprised ...
ALBERT PUJOLS: Oh, the pitching? I've said it so many times in my career, it doesn't matter who's in front of me or behind me, I still feel that I need to get a good pitch to hit, and if it's there, just try and put my best swing and don't look at it, oh, man, this is a situation that they're not going to pitch to me. This game is so hard already mentally that you don't have the time to even though sometimes you want to think like that, but you don't have the time, because when you're out there in the batters' box, you don't have any time to think about it. Just look for a pitch and put your best swing. And that's what I did tonight.
Q. On top of everything else tonight, Tony goes into second place in all time postseason wins as a manager. You've played with him for a long time. How does that sit with you? What do you think about it?
ALBERT PUJOLS: It's pretty special. I just thank God every day that I'm able to wear this uniform and share a special moment with Tony. Like you said, I've been with him for 11 years, and he's been like a dad to me. It's pretty special. As soon as he's done with this game, he's going to be obviously in the Hall of Fame, and to share that, those moments with him, it's pretty special. And those are moments pretty much that when you're done with this game, you can take with you, on top of the bad memories and tough strikeouts and tough losses. But those are special moments, you know, that you take. Knowing Tony, he's going to continue to do it. That's why he's one of the best in the business.
Q. There was a lot of attention on you yesterday, a lot written and said, maybe even more than usual. Did any of that give you any extra motivation heading into this game?
ALBERT PUJOLS: Not really. What can I say? To tell you the truth, I just come and get ready to play. I've been in that situation before where people just blow things out, and it is what it is, and you can't really think about that. My main focus is we are in the World Series. The sad part of that was that you got two great quality pitching, and nobody talked about that, about Jaime and Lewis. Nobody talked about that. They just concentrated about that I left the clubhouse when I was there for 25 minutes, nobody approached me. That's pretty sad that we are in the World Series and you have quality pitching like that and there was nobody talking about it. At the same time I feel embarrassed that everybody was just focused on that, and I was in the middle of that, when you had Jaime out there throwing one of his best postseason games ever and you had Lewis doing the same thing against some tough offense. I was really embarrassed, to tell you the truth, that we were in the middle of that.
Lance Lynn post-game comments
Q. You talked earlier about how you were taking a deep breath and trying to keep everything simple, not let anything get too big for you in the series. How big was it for you tonight in an extended role?
LANCE LYNN: You know, Tony gave me the ball and he has a lot of confidence in me. That goes a long way for me knowing that the manager has a lot of confidence in me to let me go out there and try to get multiple outs. You know, he told me when I came in, "take a deep breath and do what you do," and that's all I could do was do what I can control.
Q. How tough of a situation is that to walk into when teams are scoring three runs every inning and all of a sudden you go in there, too, and try to have to restore a little bit of order on the pitching side?
LANCE LYNN: You know, that's what this game is all about, who's going to be the guy that comes in and is able to get multiple innings in a game like that because both offenses were on tonight. Somebody had to come in and try to calm the storm, I guess, and I was able to make a couple pitches, and I actually got away with some pitches, too. So to be able to come in and get a couple outs there and not have to go in our bullpen any deeper, I felt like that was good movement on the rest of the series.
Q. You had the extended layoff before the postseason. Was there ever a point when you doubted you'd be able to pitch again this year and have you surprised yourself with how strong you came back immediately?
LANCE LYNN: You know, I always wanted to pitch and always felt like I was going to be able to get back. And to have the faith of the manager and the front office to give me this opportunity is great, and I'm just glad that I'm able to be a part of this and be productive, and that's all I'm going to do from here on is try to do the best I can, and whenever I get the opportunity, just try to get outs.
Q. As a teammate of Albert's, when you see a performance like that, do you just ask yourself, how do pitchers ever get this guy out?
LANCE LYNN: I mean, yeah. You see him tonight, he was locked in tonight. That's great for us. You know, you never want to be the pitcher to face him when he's locked in because you're definitely going to have to try to make some pitches on him. I'm just happy tonight that we were able to do what we were doing. It was also fun to watch him do what he did tonight and just to be a teammate of his when he did something like that, that's something I'm going to be able to tell my kids and grandkids that I actually witnessed that in person.
First base umpire Ron Kulpa and crew chief Jerry Layne
Q. The play with Napoli and Holliday and the attempted tag: I guess, what did you see on that play?
Kulpa: At the time of the play, I had him on the base at the time of his tag. I had a tag, but I had him on the base.
Q. And did you think about asking for help on that play at all?
Kulpa: No. On that type of play, I'm not going to ask for help. Ron [Washington] didn't ask me to get any help, either.
Q. So when [Ron] came out, kind of what was the conversation that the two of you had?
Kulpa: He asked me what I had, and I told him the same thing I just told you guys.
Q. Have you seen a replay of it yet?
Kulpa: I saw a replay when I walked off the field, and the tag was applied before his foot hit the bag.
Q. You being from St. Louis ...
Kulpa: Has nothing to do with it.
Layne: That's pretty much all that there is to it. You know, he watched the replay. He told you his answer, and there's nothing more to it.
Q. Is there anything about your positioning, would you say? Was it different than before?
Kulpa: No. I called what I saw.
Layne: It was a wide throw. It was a tough, it was a tough call. Very tough call on, you know, that type of play, so I think that's about all that there is to it. Thank you for coming in, appreciate it. Thank you.