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.
Mets starter Jon Niese left his start Tuesday night against the Cardinals due to left knee pain.
Niese walked two and gave up an RBI single before leaving with a trainer with one out in the bottom of the first inning. He was eventually charged with three earned runs. Robert Gsellman, just up from Las Vegas, took over, making his major league debut under unexpected circumstances.
Niese, who has not pitched well at all since coming over in a trade with the Pirates, is likely to be placed on the disabled list after the game or before tomorrow’s game.
Mark Trumbo still has many chances to hit a home run tonight — it’s only been an inning or so in the Nats-Orioles game — but his weird home run streak is over.
Coming into tonight’s game, Trumbo’s last seven hits had been homers. The all-time record had been 11, set by Mark McGwire back in 2001. The last time Trumbo got a hit that wasn’t a dong was back on August 11. Later in that game, however, he hit a grand slam. After that he went 6 for his next 34, with all those safeties dingers.
But that’s over now. In the first inning tonight he drove in a run with a two-out single. Then he was thrown out trying to stretch it to two. Good job on the RBIs, Mark. Bad job on the base running. Judgment withheld on the homer streak because, really, that’s just kind of weird and cool.