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well, now we know just how much pujols it requires to overcome a little juan encarnacion.

my dad and younger brother were at the game yesterday with my nephews, ages 7 and 5. they headed for the ramp after the cards left the sacks full in the 8th inning (cut `em some slack, the boys are young and it was a long game), but a souvenir stand on the concourse hooked one of the kids and delayed their departure. the boys were slow to select their loot -- so many kinds o' crap to choose from!! -- and the reds were impatient to get through the 9th, so the crew were still in attendance for the ending in spite of themselves. kids being kids, they insisted on buying some shiny, plasticky red junk to commemorate their visit, even after albert had delivered (at no extra charge) his own, far more valuable memento of this day at the ballpark.

hope you all enjoyed it, because that may be pujols' last hurrah for 2006. he probably won't see another strike all season. why in god's name would you throw him one? just give the man his base, try to get past rolen, and you're out of trouble. i think that's the lesson opposing managers will take away from yesterday's game: you can beat the cardinals this year, but you still can't beat pujols.

here's how my SB Nation colleague at Red Reporter put it:

Teams need to start pitching to Pujols like they've pitched to Bonds in recent years. Why let him beat you when the Cardinals have a bunch of lightweights like Aaron Miles, John Rodriguez, Juan Encarnacion, Scott Spiezio, Yadier Molina, and Skip Schumaker in the lineup? The Cards have had exactly two hitters to be afraid of in their lineup for the past three games, and those two hitters hit a combined four home runs today. Maybe pitching around Pujols and Rolen would have been a good idea?
albert drew 13 walks in the cardinals' first dozen games; wouldn't shock me if he draws 20 walks in the next dozen.

sometimes a game like this will get a team going. st louis didn't pitch particularly well, didn't hit when it counted (mostly), and made fielding and baserunning mistakes that should have cost them the game -- but they won anyway, simply because one player was too stubborn or stupid to quit. such a win can have a cathartic effect -- a multitude of sins forgiven, souls purged, consciences wiped clean -- and settle things down, where a standard get-lead-hold-lead one-run win might simply keep ev'yone on edge. if the cards' play becomes a tad more crisp in the coming days, the talking heads will point to this game. they might also point to the schedule, which features 10 games against pittsburgh (off to a 4-10 start) and washington (4-9) in the next two weeks. in 2004-05 the cardinals methodically crushed this sort of opposition; a 9-4 or 10-3 run here might help the 2006 cardinals look a little less like some cheap, shiny, plasticky concession-stand toy.

before i go: hardball times links to a blogger who uses an old bill james formula to calculate pujols' chances of breaking the all-time hr record as well as the standards for hits, runs scored, rbis, and doubles. the formula gives albert an outside chance at hitting 900 home runs. and that's not even counting yesterday's game . . . .