Albert Pujols is most certainly back.
Not to be outdone by his own performance in Saturday afternoon’s 12th-inning victory over the rival Cubs, the Cardinals first baseman slugged a second straight walkoff home run on Sunday in a thrilling 3-2 extra-innings win for St. Louis.
The Cards swept the three-game series.
Albert’s 10th-inning blast sailed high into the left-center field bleachers. He admired the shot for several seconds at home plate before trotting around the bases slowly and dancing down the third base line into a jumping huddle of Cardinals players. It’s quite clear: he’s feelin’ it.
That’s now four homers in three games for Pujols, and two of the game-ending variety.
Pujols ended the month of May with a .267/.336/.419 batting line. Just five games into June, he’s now hitting .278/.353/.473. His OPS has jumped from .745 to .826 in less than a week.
Cubs manager Mike Quade told reporters on Sunday morning that he didn’t sleep Saturday night after making the decision to pitch to Pujols in the 12th inning. Somebody may want to pass him some Ambien for the plane ride to Cincinnati, because he made an almost identical decision on Sunday afternoon in the 10th.
The Cardinals are now 11 games above .500 and alone atop the National League Central standings.
People are the absolute worst sometimes. The latest example: someone stole one of Jose Fernandez’s high school jerseys, which had been displayed in his old high school’s dugout for a vigil last night.
That report comes from Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times who covered the vigil at Alonso High School in Tampa yesterday. Her story of the vigil is here. Today she has been tweeting about the theft of the jersey. She spoke to Alonso High school’s principal who, in a bit of understatement, called the theft the “lowest of the low.”
The high school had one more Fernandez jersey remaining and has put it on display in the school. In the meantime, spread this story far and wide so that whatever vulture who stole it can’t sell it.
In an earlier post I made a joke about the Indians starting Dennis Martinez if forced to play a meaningless (for them) game on Monday against the Tigers. On Twitter, one of my followers, Ray Fink, asked a great question: If you had to hand the ball to a Hall of Fame-eligible pitcher to give you three innings, who would it be?
The Hall of Fame-eligible part gets rid of the recently-retired ringers, requiring a guy who has been off the scene for at least five years, ensuring that there’s a good bit of rust. I love questions like these.
My immediate answer was Mike Mussina. My thinking being that of all of the great pitchers fitting these parameters, he’s the most likely to have stayed in good shape. I mean, Greg Maddux probably still has the best pitching IQ on the planet, but he’s let himself go a bit, right? Mussina strikes me as a guy who still wakes up and does crunches and stuff.
If you extend it to December, however, you may get a better answer, because that’s when Tim Wakefield becomes eligible for the Hall. I realize a knuckleball requires practice to maintain the right touch and subtlety to the delivery, but it also requires the least raw physical effort. Jim Bouton went well more than five years without throwing his less-than-Wakefield-quality knuckler and was still able to make a comeback. I think Tim could be passable.
Then there’s Roger Clemens. I didn’t see his numbers for that National Baseball Congress tourney this summer and I realize he’s getting a bit thick around the middle, but I’m sure he can still bring it enough to not embarrass himself. Beyond the frosted tips, anyway.
So: who is your Space Cowboys-style reclamation project? Who is the old legend you dust off for one last job?