Pujols AP

Albert Pujols leads the way in Game 2 blowout win over Brewers

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Albert Pujols didn’t do everything for the Cardinals tonight, but it sure seemed like it at times.

Pujols went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer, three doubles, five RBI and three runs scored in a 12-3 win over the Brewers in Game 2 of the NLCS, tying the series at 1-1. As part of a 17-hit attack by the Cardinals, David Freese homered for the second straight game while Jon Jay added three hits and Nick Punto chipped in with a pair of RBI singles.

Pujols is just the fourth player in postseason history to have four extra-base hits in the same game. The others:

Hideki Matsui: NYY vs. BOS – 2004 ALCS Game 3 (won 19-8)
Bob Robertson: PIT at SFG – 1971 NLCS Game 2 (won 9-4)
Frank Isbell: CWS vs. CHC – 1906 WS Game 5 (won 8-6)

Just icing on the cake, Pujols is the first player with four hits, four RBI and 10 total bases in an NLCS game since former Giants’ first baseman Will Clark in 1989 against the Cubs. Pujols now has 14 home runs and 42 RBI in his postseason career, passing former center fielder Jim Edmonds for the franchise record.

Shaun Marcum was smoked for five runs on seven hits over four innings in Monday’s loss. He has allowed 12 runs over 8 2/3 innings during the postseason, good enough for an ugly 11.25 ERA.

While this game ended up being a laugher, the Brewers actually had a chance to make things interesting in the fifth inning. After Edwin Jackson was chased from the game with the score 7-2, Rickie Weeks came up to the plate with the bases loaded against right-hander Lance Lynn. He hit into what was seemingly a rally-killing double-play to end the inning, however, it was clearly a blown call by first base umpire Sam Holbrook. The Cardinals poured it on offensively from there, including a four-run seventh inning, but this may have been a different ballgame if he made the right call.

Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder both homered in a losing cause for the Brewers while Ryan Braun went 2-for-4 with a double. Braun is batting .500 (13-for-26) during the postseason.

The series will now turn to St. Louis on Wednesday night, when Chris Carpenter takes on Yovani Gallardo.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: