Link-O-Rama: Umpires, Pedro, Mariano, Brenly

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* MLB announced the umpiring crews for the ALCS and NLCS, and first-round goats C.B. Bucknor, Jerry Meals, and Phil Cuzzi are all absent.
Committing to improving umpire performance and utilizing instant replay further to avoid obvious blown calls would be nice, but short of that keeping the offending umpires off the field is something at least.
* Pedro Martinez hasn’t pitched since September 30 because of injuries and bad weather, but he’ll get the Game 2 assignment for the Phillies and Charlie Manuel said yesterday that he’s “capable of throwing anywhere from like 75 to 90 pitches, maybe 95, maybe even 100.”
* Mariano Rivera has been named Delivery Man of the Year, winning for the third time in the award’s five years of existence. Jonathan Papelbon was the winner in 2007 and Brad Lidge won last season. Joe Nathan finished second to Rivera this year.
* ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer wonders why Bob Brenly isn’t a candidate for various managerial openings given his World Series win in 2001 and .536 winning percentage in four years at the helm in Arizona. Cubs fans ought to be happy that Brenly isn’t a hotter managerial name, because along with play-by-play man Len Kasper he forms one of the best announcing duos in the game.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).