While the first two games in St. Louis were sharply played, tight encounters with runs at a premium, Game Three in Arlington was a lengthy, run-filled affair with a few mistakes thrown in for good measure.
The Cardinals took a 2-1 series lead with a 16-7 victory. That came after only eight runs were scored combined by both teams in the first two games of the series.
In some respects it was to be expected.
These are two teams with very good offences and Rangers Ballpark has a well-deserved reputation as being hitter-friendly. These potent bats were unlikely to be silenced for much longer.
No bat is more potent than one held in the hands of Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. He was the chief architect of the offensive onslaught, becoming only the third player to hit three homers in a World Series game. The other two are Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson: two great names from baseball history. You can’t expect a three-homer night out of any player, but it would also be wrong to state that the feat was unbelievable or that it was really a surprise to witness Pujols adding his name to that exclusive list. That’s just the type of thing Albert does.
The three homers were awe-inspiring, bashing the Rangers and their fans into submission. The ever-quotable Ron Washington put it best when he said after the game: “between him and [the Tigers’ Miguel] Cabrera, you need to outlaw them … they’re just that good”.
One of the sub-plots to the Cardinals’ postseason run is Pujols’ impending free agency. I’ve never been overly convinced that his performance in this year’s postseason would greatly affect the length and value of his new contract.
He’s established himself as one of the greatest players in recent memory, so it wouldn’t be hard for his agent to dismiss a handful of hit-less games in October in any negotiations. A standout performance or two might add a few dollars on to the overall value, but everyone knows what sort of player Pujols is and everyone knows that he’ll become one of the highest players in the game and receive one of the largest contracts in the sport’s history.
The question is whether the Cardinals will be the team to give him that contract. Would winning a World Series have any bearing on the decision and if so would it make it more or less likely that Pujols will continue to wear Cardinal red for the rest of his career?
We’ll have to wait and see, in the first instance whether the Cardinals do in fact have another World Series triumph to celebrate. Their 2-1 series lead, and the manner of their Game Three victory, gives them a great chance to tick that first achievement off their list.
A few mistakes
The comprehensive nature of the final scoreline has relegated first base umpire Ron Kulpa’s incorrect call in the fourth inning to a footnote, much to his relief I’m sure. Rangers fans will note that the call, wrongly ruling that Mike Napoli missed a tag on Matt Holliday in what should have been a double-play, started off a four-run inning for the Cardinals.
Twitter was immediately alive with calls for the use of Instant Replay to be expanded. Gary Thorn and Rick Sutcliffe noted on the MLB International broadcast that it took them less time to determine that the ruling was wrong than it did for the umpires to deal with Washington’s understandable complaint.
It is difficult to argue against that point and had the decision been more prominent in the final result then much more would be made of it. However, it was interesting to note that Napoli voiced his opposition after the game to expanding the use of Instant Replay.
From Texas’ point of view, they will also look at their own part in the decision and its repercussions.
It would have been avoided had Ian Kinsler not made such a poor throw in the first place and might not have been costly had Mike Napoli not then allowed two runs to score with his own off-line throw to the plate. There was also plenty of time left in the game for Texas to recover from the incorrect decision.
None of this makes Kulpa’s call less of an error, but we always tend to overemphasise the impact of one call from an umpire when it should be seen in the context of the whole game.
Game Three lasted over four hours, coming to an end at 5.10 a.m. UK time. Thankfully we’ve had Sunday morning to catch up on some sleep after that. What will hopefully be an exciting, but slightly shorter, Game Four begins at 01.05 a.m. on Monday.