Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has a revolutionary idea for the Texas pitching staff: whenever Albert Pujols steps to the plate for the remainder of the World Series, either keep all pitches out of the strike zone or simply give him a free, intentional pass.
Via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News:
“We cannot take chances on Pujols,” Andrus said after Saturday’s 16-7 Game 3 loss to the Cardinals. “Everybody knows how good he is. We’ve got to execute pitches. If he doesn’t chase, give him first base. We’d rather see Matt Holliday beat us than Pujols. You never want to see the best hitter beat you.”
It’s the kind of thing you hear TV analysts suggest often, but is it really a smart strategy? And will it actually stymie the Cards’ attack?
Holliday went 1-for-5 in Game 3 Saturday and is just 2-for-11 through the first three games of this Fall Classic. But he’s also batting .326/.420/.465 across 50 plate appearances this postseason and carries a .929 career OPS. The guy is a monster. Behind him is Lance Berkman, with a career .954 OPS. And right behind Berkman is David Freese, the hottest overall hitter in these 2011 playoffs.
Walking Pujols at every turn might make sense on the surface, but the St. Louis lineup is deep enough to make the Rangers pay dearly. If Ron Washington is going to employ Andrus’ strategy, he’ll have to pick and choose his spots. Feeding the Cardinals free base runners will only lead to trouble.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.