Coming off an historic performance at the plate in Game 3, Pujols looks to help the Cardinals take a 3-1 series lead over the Texas Rangers on Sunday night in Arlington.
After the teams combined for eight runs while splitting the first two games on a pair of damp nights at Busch Stadium, Pujols joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only players to hit three homers in a World Series game in St. Louis’ 16-7 road win Saturday .
“It’s an honor to be named in the same category as those guys,” said Pujols, who finished 5 for 6 with six RBIs in Game 3.
The Cardinals, who won Game 1 but then blew a one-run ninth-inning lead to lose Game 2, once again have history on their side. Thirty-six of 54 teams that won Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead have won the title, including 10 of the last 11.
If the Cardinals keep swinging the bats like they did Saturday, that pattern will continue.
St. Louis’ 16 runs in Game 3 tied for the second-most in World Series history. The Cardinals also become the first team in Series history to post four straight multi-run innings.
“We need to come out (Sunday) and do the same thing,” said Pujols, who had two homers and 10 RBIs in his previous 13 postseason games this year.
“All it takes is one good game.”
Allen Craig(notes), who delivered an RBI pinch-hit single in each of the first two games, started Saturday and hit a solo homer in the first inning. The Cardinals have scored first in 10 straight postseason games, one shy of Detroit’s record 11 set between 1972 and 1984.
Yadier Molina(notes) drove in four runs and David Freese(notes) went 2 for 4 with two RBIs. The NL championship series MVP, Freese is batting .457 (21 for 46) with 16 RBIs during a 13-game postseason hitting streak.
“It’s not about me,” Pujols said. “This is about our ballclub.”
However, Pujols again showed how he is capable of taking over a game.
Despite that performance, Rangers manager Ron Washington still might not alter his somewhat conservative approach when pitching to Pujols.
“I just hope that we can make him chase some stuff, not put stuff in the wrong spot,” Washington said. “When the opportunity presents itself to put him on the bag, I’m not going to let him swing the bat.”
“They have an unbelievable ballclub,” Pujols said. “You saw, we scored some runs, they bounced back and scored some runs. They are going to be ready to play.”
Holland, however, allowed four runs in just 4 2-3 innings of Texas’ 15-5 ALCS-clinching Game 6 victory over Detroit on Oct. 15.
The left-hander hopes his World Series experience this year is better than last season, when he allowed three runs and walked four in one inning over two relief outings versus San Francisco.
“I really want to win this,” Holland said. “I feel like I’ve got a lot to prove after what happened last year, but it’s obviously not going to take me out of my game or what I have to do for this next start.”
Like Holland, Jackson (1-0, 5.84) struggled in his last outing. He yielded four runs on three homers in just two innings of the Cardinals 12-6 NLCS-clinching victory at Milwaukee on Sunday.
“I was kind of tentative last game,” Jackson said. “I’ll come out this game being aggressive from the first pitch. I plan on definitely not having a start like last time.
Jackson has allowed one run over 15 innings while splitting his last two starts at Texas, but hasn’t pitched there since 2008, when he played for Tampa Bay.
While the right-hander is making his first World Series start, Jackson gave up a solo homer in two innings of relief during the Rays’ 10-2 loss to Philadelphia in the 2008 series.
Beltre is 6 for 14 versus Jackson while Cruz is 5 for 12 against him.