Pujols makes history, then is 0-for-Game 4
Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 7:01 pm
By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — No congratulatory phone call from Reggie Jackson was likely for Albert Pujols after Game 4.
Mr. October called the St. Louis Cardinals star following Game 3, when Pujols joined Jackson as the only living players to hit three home runs in a World Series game.
A day later, Pujols was 0-for-4 Sunday night as the Cardinals managed just two hits and four balls out of the infield in a 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers that left the World Series tied at two games apiece.
“I got some good pitches to hit. I missed it,” Pujols said. “That’s part of the game.”
A night after piling up 16 runs and 15 hits, the Cardinals had their fewest in the Series since Boston’s Jim Lonborg one-hit them in Game 2 in 1967.
Derek Holland pitched 81⁄3 innings and Neftali Feliz finished with hitless relief for the 19th Series two-hitter. The loss sent the Cardinals to the biggest Series one-game drop in runs since the 1936 Yankees beat the Giants 18-4 in Game 2 at the Polo Grounds, then won 2-1 at Yankee Stadium the next day.
“It was just a great performance,” said Lance Berkman, who singled and doubled for both St. Louis hits. “That’s why they say momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher.”
St. Louis never got a runner past second base. One day after tying Series records for home runs, hits (five) and RBIs (six), Pujols came up with the bases empty in his first three trips, grounding out twice around a foulout. With two on in the ninth, he flied out.
“I thought he put a nice stroke on the ball with Feliz. He hits that ball in the gap, we might have some fun,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “They worked us over. Nobody centered the ball except Lance.”
Holland retired Pujols on a 1-1 pitch in the first, an 0-1 count in the fourth and a 3-2 pitch in the seventh.
“I saw the ball really good, to tell you the truth,” Pujols said. “He was mixing it up pretty well and throwing strikes. That’s something he’s struggled with in the past, his command. He was throwing strikes. He was being aggressive and keeping us off balance with changeup, breaking ball, cutter and his sinker.”
Holland was dominating as he had five 1-2-3 innings. The hitless night dropped Pujols’ Series batting average to .313.
“I just wanted to go right after him,” Holland said. “I know he is wonderful. He’s a great hitter. He’s one of the best in the game, there’s no doubt about it. But I wanted to make sure. I wanted him to see my ’A’ game.”
Texas wanted to avoid a repeat of Saturday night, when Pujols hit a three-run homer off Alexi Ogando, a two-run drive against Michael Gonzalez and a solo shot versus Darren Oliver.
Pujols matched the three-homer feat accomplished by Babe Ruth in 1926 and 1928, and by Jackson in 1977.
“It was real nice,” Pujols said after speaking with Mr. October. “He was real humble. I just told him how blessed I was to be in the same list as him and Babe Ruth. He was really complimentary. I really appreciate for him to take the time. He didn’t have to do that. But that tells you right there what kind of man he is.”
Game 3 was Pujols’ one big night so far in this World Series.
In Games 1 and 2, he was held hitless in six at-bats to go with his 0-for-4 effort in Game 4.
He is now 5-for-16 in this Series.
Pujols and the Cardinals will have one more chance in the Rangers’ home, known as a hitters’ park, before returning home to Busch Stadium.
AP Sports Writer Jaime Aron contributed to this report. Published in The Messenger 10.24.11