Marcum would claim the home run pitch to Pujols was a “good pitch,” and so was the pitch that produced the double. But that seemed to be a matter of perception. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy, for one, was more critical, saying: “When you elevate [a pitch] in the zone to [Pujols], he’s going to make you pay for it. . . . [Marcum] still has nasty stuff. It’s just a matter of getting the ball down and executing.”
When Pujols left the ballpark Sunday night after Game 1, he seemed agitated and surly. He cut short his postgame media session after a reporter asked him about making “adjustments” in Game 2. “I’m pretty good at it,” the three-time MVP sneered before walking off. Earlier that night, Pujols had failed in perhaps the biggest at-bat of the game for the Cardinals, grounding into a double play in the seventh inning, with the Cardinals trailing by three and with two runners on base.
St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols was 4 for 5 with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs to lead the Cardinals past the Milwaukee Brewers 12-3 on Monday. The win ties the NLCS at one game each. (Oct. 11)
Nelson Cruz hit the first game-ending grand slam in postseason history, lifting the Texas Rangers over the Detroit Tigers 7-3 in 11 innings Monday for a 2-0 lead in the AL championship series. (Oct. 10)
“Yesterday was so tough,” Pujols said of his Game 1. “Going to bed, I was just thinking some of the opportunity [in Game 2 to] help our ballclub to win.”
When he homered in the first inning Monday night, Pujols stood and admired his work for a good, long while, before finally tossing his bat aside disdainfully and making a slow jog around the bases. Perhaps Pujols’s preening stemmed from the intense dislike between the teams, or maybe he had simply forgotten what it felt like to connect: He hadn’t homered since Sept. 22, having gone a total of 54 at-bats during that stretch.
And when he doubled over the head of Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan in the third, driving home two more runs, Pujols clapped his hands and pointed to the sky. In one of the key sequences of the game, Morgan failed to make a pair of plays — one diving play coming in, and the leaping play on the Pujols drive going back — that, while not routine in any way, were catchable balls that, had he gotten them, would have changed the course of the inning, and perhaps the game.
“That ball was a BB,” Morgan said. “I can’t catch everything. . . . It’s part of the game. Sometimes you’re going to get spanked a little bit. You just have to hang in there.”
When the Brewers finally retired Pujols in the eighth inning, what was left of the crowd of 43,937 cheered sarcastically. Miller Park has witnessed 20 of Pujols’s 459 career home runs, regular season and postseason combined, and Brewers fans didn’t need a reminder of how good he is. But on Monday night, they got one anyway.