Stop the presses: Albert Pujols to bat cleanup

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Earlier today Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch analyzed the Cardinals lineup and noted that Matt Holliday is having a hell of a time hitting with runners on base.  Bernie suggested that, in light of this, perhaps Tony La Russa should bat Albert Pujols cleanup and put Holliday in the three-hole.  Of course, Pujols hasn’t hit anywhere but third for seven years, so it was more academic than anything.  Bernie’s conclusion:

“But if [Holliday] can get on base ahead of Pujols, then the Cardinals might have
something going. Just an idea. Chance of Tony La Russa implementing
it: zero.”

And in today’s Cardinals lineup: Matt Holliday bats third, Albert Pujols cleanup.

If it was any other guy I’d wonder if he wasn’t reading the papers too much. But Tony La Russa is probably the most stubborn manager in baseball today, so either this is (a) grand coincidence; or (b) La Russa read Bernie’s column and made the change with explicit instructions to Pujols to strike out four times tonight in order to show the media who’s boss.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.