The Central champions will try to complete their second consecutive 100-win campaign as they host the Cincinnati Reds in the final regular season game at Busch Stadium.
Pujols, a strong candidate to take home his first-ever MVP award, was homerless in 61 at-bats before hitting a grand slam in Friday’s series-opening 12-6 win. He added a two-run shot Saturday, his 41st of the year, as St. Louis posted a 9-6 win to move within one victory of having back-to-back 100-win seasons for just the second time in franchise history, and first since 1942-44.
“It’s not the reason we come out,” manager Tony La Russa said. “We need to play one more really good game and get ready for next week.”
Walker, limited to 99 games this year due to a herniated disc in his back, will be a valuable bat in St. Louis’ lineup during the postseason, especially with third baseman Scott Rolen out for the rest of the year with a shoulder injury.
Walker has 15 homers and 52 RBIs. It was his 31st career multihomer game and his third this season.
The Cardinals, who won 105 games last year, have already locked up home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. With a win Sunday, they will be baseball’s only 100-win team. St. Louis can’t get home field in the World Series, as the AL won that advantage during this year’s All-Star game.
“I think because of the history of this franchise, it would be a nice mark for the two-year run,” La Russa said. “But any time you chase a number, you’re making a big mistake.”
Longtime Cardinals second baseman and manager Red Schoendienst removed the number 2 in the countdown of games remaining at Busch Stadium on Saturday. Ozzie Smith will remove the number 1 during Sunday’s finale