Albert Pujols tallies a record 14 total bases, Cardinals win 16-7 in World Series Game 3

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Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols drew heavy amounts of criticism for leaving the Busch Stadium clubhouse before talking to the media following Thursday’s Game 2 loss. A few national baseball writers even questioned his leadership, given that younger players like Jason Motte, Jon Jay and Allen Craig were left to handle all of the heat.

Let’s go ahead and toss that narrative aside. It never really made much sense in the first place.

Pujols put together one of the greatest single-game performances in World Series history during Saturday night’s 16-7 Game 3 trouncing of the Rangers, finishing 5-for-6 with three home runs, six RBI and four runs scored. He tallied 14 total bases, breaking a longstanding Fall Classic record and vaulting himself into the elite rung of postseason performers.

Babe Ruth. Reggie Jackson. Albert Pujols.

Those are the only three men in the history of baseball to launch three home runs in a World Series game.

Leadership — true leadership — is something that has to be built and then cultivated through consistent, physical examples. It’s never been established through words alone, nor has it ever been betrayed by a single, rare mistake. What Pujols did Thursday night in St. Louis was wrong. Answering questions is part of being a professional. But to suggest that the other players in the Cardinals’ dugout somehow lost faith or respect in baseball’s greatest right-handed slugger was a stretch from the start. A failed assumption.

Pujols left no doubt on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, with those scribes who questioned him looking on in awe. He answered the call and then some. And now his Cardinals hold an improbable 2-1 lead in the seven-game Fall Classic. Have we mentioned, already, that this series has the feel of an instant classic?

Cardinals’ bullpen loses combined no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth inning

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Update (10:04 PM EST): Orlando Arcia reached on a fielding error by DeJong. Gallegos bounced back, inducing weak fly outs from Ryan Braun and Trent Grisham. Yasmani Grandal ended the dream, yanking a double down the right field line.

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Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson flirted a no-hitter, but was unable to make it through the seventh inning. The right-hander kept the Brewers hitless through 6 2/3 innings on Monday evening at Busch Stadium, striking out six and walking four on 111 pitches. Hudson’s career-high was 112 pitches, so it was not surprising to see manager Mike Shildt take Hudson out of the game after a two-out walk to Eric Thames. Giovanny Gallegos entered the game and got Ben Gamel to ground out to end the inning.

Hudson, 24, entered the night 11-6 with a 3.82 ERA and a 97/59 K/BB ratio in 127 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals provided Hudson three runs of support. Kolten Wong knocked in a run with a ground out in the fifth inning and Dexter Fowler added an RBI single later in the frame. Paul DeJong crushed a solo homer to left field in the sixth to make it 3-0.

The last Cardinals no-hitter was thrown by Bud Smith on September 3, 2001 against the Padres. The Brewers were last no-hit on June 12, 2007 by Justin Verlander, then with the Tigers. If the Cardinals were to complete the no-hitter, it would be the fourth of the 2019 season and the third combined no-hitter.

We will update this thread as the Cardinals’ bullpen attempts to keep the Brewers hitless through the final two innings.