napoli1023ARLINGTON, Texas — As far as I can tell, the only problem with Albert Pujols' three-homer game in Saturday's 16-7 win — or any big individual performance in the postseason, for that matter — is that it tends to hide or erase other notable storylines.
Umpire Ron Kulpa and St. Louis Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse are probably happy for that dynamic; reliever Lance Lynn (who settled down the Texas Rangers offense in 2 1/3 innings of work) and Allen Craig (who continued his mastery of the postseason with a first inning homer) probably less so.
Then there was arguably the most exciting defensive play of the night being made a complete afterthought by the majesty of Albert's trio homers. With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Rangers having already scored three runs, Cards left fielder Matt Holliday caught an Ian Kinsler fly ball near the left field foul line. With very little time to set up, Holliday threw a perfect strike to catcher Yadier Molina, who was able to cut down Mike Napoli at the plate to end the inning and preserve what was a 5-3 St. Louis lead at the time.
Though Pujols' heroics and the Cards' offensive explosion would later push the highlight to the back of the reel, Holliday's play deserved a bigger spotlight. For one, it ended an inning where St. Louis could have fell into some real trouble. For another, it came from a ballplayer who's on the field because of his bat, not his defense. (All Cardinals fans still remember the pain of Matt Holliday's gaffe against the Dodgers in the 2009 NLDS.)
"That's the play. Kins hit a fly ball fairly deep and I'm not fast enough to score," Napoli told reporters after the game. "He made a perfect throw. You try to put pressure on a defense and try to make bad throws and he made a perfect throw."