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Big League Stew

Is Albert Pujols’ World Series fate out of his hands at this point?

Big League Stew

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ST. LOUIS — The performance that Albert Pujols put together in Game 3 of the World Series — 5 for 6 with three homers and six RBIs — is destined to live on as a signature postseason effort.

But what he's done so far the rest of the time?

Not so much.

In the other four contests of this Fall Classic against the Texas Rangers, the St. Louis Cardinals superstar has gone 0 for 12 with four intentional walks and just one run scored. He missed a key cutoff throw in the ninth inning of Game 2, called an ill-fated hit-and-run in the seventh frame of Game 5 and then struck out in the top of the ninth as Allen Craig was again gunned down at second. Not exactly the type of heroics that Pujols is normally known for.

[Related: Albert Pujols in a Cardinals uniform just looks right]

Now, if this were the regular season, there would be nothing to worry about as Pujols would soon be back on track. But this isn't the regular season. The Cardinals have only one or two games left and Texas manager Ron Washington has made the decision that Pujols is no longer going to be allowed to hurt the Rangers. The three intentional walks during Wednesday's Game 5 provided clear evidence of that.

If Pujols again becomes a factor in this World Series, it seems like it will be a byproduct of the Rangers being forced to do something they don't want to do. {YSP:MORE}

"You go into a series and you can identify a guy that's not going to beat you, and the way you do that is you pitch him very carefully, never give in to him, or you intentionally walk him," La Russa said on Tuesday. "Sparky [Anderson] was one of the masters at doing that. He would take one guy and say, don't even bring your bat to the park."

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So can the Rangers just keep pitching around Pujols and come away from Busch Stadium with the one victory they need to win their franchise's first-ever World Series title?

It depends on how Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday perform.

[Related: Could Cards bring back Chris Carpenter for potential Game 7?]

"It can be effective to shut that guy down, but it usually only works against clubs that are not real deep in the middle, and that's one of our strengths," La Russa said. "We're very deep in the middle. If you watch us play, more often than not it doesn't work because one of these quality guys will get you."

Holliday's finger is reportedly hurting more than he's letting on and that rumor is reflected in his stats as he's 3 for 18 with just one double and no RBIs. When he was batting behind Pujols in Texas, there was no question that the Rangers preferred facing Holliday.

[Y! Sports Shop: Buy Cardinals hats, jerseys and more]

The Cardinals should be in better shape with Berkman batting cleanup back here in St. Louis, but he'll need to show some early power to force Washington's hand when it comes to Pujols. Though he's 7 for 18 this series, Berkman only has one extra-base hit — a double — to his name.

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