The other day on SLM Daily I wrote about how it was reasonable to expect the Cardinals to lose Game 1 of the NLCS all along—Zack Greinke going, Brewers had home-field-advantage, etc.—and that the particular angst of that game came from the Cardinals' newfound ability to give themselves opportunities which they can then fail to take advantage of.
It was reasonable to expect the Cardinals to win Game 2, but the joy of watching that win came in its particulars. Namely: Albert Pujols being Albert Pujols all over the place. If he'd spent two weeks with the public relations department trying to figure out how to quell fears about his expanded strike zone, his dinged-up lower body, and his groundball tendencies, he couldn't have come up with four more useful at-bats than the ones he took.
Of the pitches he saw, one was a groundout, one was a swinging strike, three were foul balls, seven were balls, and four were extra-base hits. While he was at it he did that thing where he pretends nobody can see him while he's running the bases. If Strauss's recap is any indication Tony La Russa played the role of every Pujols-skeptic on VEB this season and, pregame, finally pointed out the dimensions of home plate to a guy who has hit .328 in his career. I'm not going to try to think about how that works, but if it works, sure.
And while he did it, he looked relatively healthy—less gimpy than usual, I'd put it—visibly unwilling to get himself out, and, yes, angry. Controlled angry. My favorite extra-base-hit of the night was the last one, the ground-rule double down the right field line. He saw the pitch, took an almost stereotypically Pujolsian swing at it, slashed a lob-shot down the line, and somehow stopped himself mid-follow-through to see what happened.
It reminded me of myself at the batting cages, which is not something I typically think about while watching Albert Pujols swing a bat. There was just something eager in the way he pulled the bat back, like when you know you're on a roll and you want the next rubbery slow-pitch softball to just get out here, already, before you forget what you're doing.
If that's the way he feels, I'm with him—I want to see Albert Pujols hit again, and soon. It's a good feeling.
- David Freese has now hit fifteen of his eighteen Major League home runs to center or right field. I've never seen anything quite like it—he's like the pieces left over from a normal home run hitter. I don't know whether that means we might finally get the expected power production out of him now that he's figured out how to harness it or it's proof that he'll never hit home runs like he did in the minors because you can't do that to real pitchers, but that's why I'm not paid thousands of dollars to make wild and unsupported claims in a TV studio after the game.
- Edwin Jackson had a terminal case of Jaime Garciaitis—four-plus innings, one walk, three strikeouts, two earned runs, and 82 pitches.
- I get the feeling I'm going to be very disappointed when 2012 comes around and Nick Punto isn't a .390 OBP guy with surprise doubles power anymore. If you gave Nick Punto access to the same yellow sun Barry Bonds found in 2001, he would hit .278/.388/.421.