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.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.