10/18/06 2:29 AM ET
Pujols has final say against Glavine
Slugger's key homer sent St. Louis on its way to big victory
In today's game, juicy feuds are very rare. Baseball is a civil war only in the sense that everyone is so civil, which isn't a bad thing, only somewhat colorless.So, even though Pujols and Glavine have recently spoken of each other with a smile, it seemed to be a wolf's grin. According to Pujols, Glavine wasn't different from what the Cardinals had seen in Shea Stadium. Only, this time the Cards beat him with better at-bats. "We just made some good adjustments," Pujols said. "We had quality at-bats." Glavine shrugged off culpability for two runs against him delivered by ground-ball singles: "Getting guys to hit the ball on the ground is what I'm trying to do. I can't control where they hit it."
However, Pujols included all of it among the ingredients of a championship."You need to take advantage of little breaks like that to win in the postseason," Pujols said. "When they make mistakes, you need to capitalize."
|"You know, we were sitting on zero, and [Pujols' homer] got us going and really perked us up. Give Albert a lot of credit."|
|-- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa|
Pujols' blow energized a Busch Stadium crowd of 46,496 towel-waving fans. From that point on, the Mets had to cope with a wall of noise as well as the astonishing stuff being dispensed first by Jeff Weaver, then his rag-tag team of relievers.The electricity sizzled on high-tension wires. Regardless of outcome, there would be a tomorrow. Yet, neither team could find consolation in that. That was no buffer for letting this pivotal game get away. The stakes felt like one of those department store blue-light specials: two-for-one, a sense influenced by Chris Carpenter being on deck for St. Louis. To the Cardinals, thus, this one felt like the prelude to a clincher. To the Mets, it loomed as an elimination game even before they were down to their last lives. For 10 innings of this NLCS, trying to hit Glavine's pitches, the Cardinals were like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football being held by Lucy. It was right there, but when they swung through, it wasn't. Then Pujols, who had been a ticking time bomb since Oct. 5, went off. And now the clock is ticking for the Mets. "I'm glad we could come back, but we need to play hard," Pujols said. "You can't take anything for granted. But we play the game hard, and now that we're in the postseason, we caught our second wind. "That's where we are right now." Right now, the Cardinals' second wind is blowing with gale force across Flushing. Maybe John Maine can do something to impress Albert and the rest of the Cardinals, not to mention all the Mets fans squinting to see a Game 7.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.