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.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.