Business Cards: Offense springs to life
ARLINGTON -- It's normally the American League team that gains the edge when a World Series shifts to Junior Circuit rules.
Not on this night.
This was the night the Cardinals retook control of this Fall Classic by playing pinball with the Rangers' pitching staff.
This was the night the Cards' bats finally came alive in a way their track record would suggest.
And this was the night the greatest offensive player in today's game gave us the greatest World Series performance in the game's history.
In Saturday's Game 3, the Cardinals invaded Rangers Ballpark -- the hitter-friendly stadium the Rangers love to hit in -- and dominated by a lopsided 16-7 score. Eight of St. Louis' nine starters (all except Jon Jay) had at least one hit and scored one run. And by himself, Albert Pujols cranked out five hits, launched three home runs and drove in six.
|2006||Detroit||Won||Won in 5|
|1985||Kansas City||Won||Lost in 7|
|1982||Milwaukee||Lost||Won in 7|
|1968||Detroit||Won||Lost in 7|
|1967||Boston||Won||Won in 7|
|1942||NY Yankees||Won||Won in 5|
|1934||Detroit||Lost||Won in 7|
|1931||Philadelphia A's||Lost||Won in 7|
|1926||NY Yankees||Lost||Won in 7|
The Cardinals were held silent in the first two games of this series, mustering only four runs on 12 hits.
This was the night they reminded us they boast one of baseball's best lineups.
"Everybody contributed," Pujols said. "We had good quality at bats. We just took our game plan out there and we executed. ... We flipped the page and came ready to play today."
On Sunday afternoon, the St. Louis Rams will play the Dallas Cowboys across the street, marking the second straight week that the St. Louis football team has played on the road in the same city as the St. Louis baseball team.
There's a very good chance the Rams will score less than 16 points.
The Cardinals' 16 runs were a postseason franchise record and the most in a World Series game since the Giants put up that many in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series. And when the Cards totaled 13 of their 14 runs between the fourth and seventh, they became the first team in World Series history to record four consecutive multirun innings.
"We made some pretty good adjustments, I think," said catcher Yadier Molina, who finished 2-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs. "We had a good plan at the plate, and we executed pretty good."
Nobody executed better than Pujols in this game. In fact, nobody in postseason history has ever executed that well.
Pujols put himself up there with a couple of postseason legends with his Game 3 performance. He joined Babe Ruth (Game 4 of the 1926 World Series and Game 4 of the '28 World Series) and Reggie Jackson (Game 6 of the '77 World Series) as the only players to go deep three times in one Fall Classic game.
Then Pujols surpassed those two in so many other aspects.
Pujols' six RBIs matched a single-game World Series record; his 14 total bases set a new record for this stage; he became the first player in World Series history to have as many as four hits, two homers and five RBIs in a game; he joins Paul Molitor (1982) as the only player to have five hits in any postseason game; and with hits in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, he became the first player in World Series history to record a hit in four consecutive innings.
It's safe to call what he did on this night unprecedented.
In Lance Berkman's mind, it's safe to call him the G.O.A.T.
"I consider him the greatest hitter ever, so it's not surprising that he would have the greatest game in World Series history," said Berkman, who finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
"He's a better hitter than Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson, and there's no doubt about it. I'm dead serious. Babe Ruth, as great as he is, played in an all-white league. There were no Latino players, it was a diluted talent pool, guys didn't throw as hard. We're talking about the best athletes that there's ever been in the sport, the best talent pool that there's ever been, and he's doing it. He's the greatest."
But Pujols is still just one piece of an offense that finally clicked on all cylinders, as you would expect from the team that led the National League in runs scored during the regular season and came into Game 3 with the Major League postseason lead in that department.
This Series may have shifted to the Rangers' ballpark and their league's rules, but while that prompted them to add the lackluster bat of Yorvit Torrealba, it allowed the Cardinals to add the scorching-hot Allen Craig, who put the Redbirds on the board with a first-inning solo homer.
Three innings later, Craig's blast became a footnote.
The Cardinals essentially put the game away by scoring 11 runs between the fourth and sixth inning, a stretch that saw nine hits and 25 batters -- 19 of whom reached base in one form or another. That's the type of production you get when you combine a lethal middle-of-the-order trio -- of Pujols, Matt Holliday and Berkman -- and combine it with the scorching bat of Craig and the streaking one of David Freese, who now has a 13-game postseason hitting streak.
"Our lineup is pretty formidable right now," said Holliday, who went unnoticed with a one-hit, three-run night. "We can score with the best of them."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.