10/23/11 1:40 AM ET
Game 3 offensive barrage not limited to Pujols
Cards, Rangers' Cruz set records during 23-run, 28-hit night
By Paul Casella / MLB.com
That all changed in Game 3 on Saturday night.
And after tallying just eight total runs in the opening two games -- tied for the 10th fewest in Major League history -- St. Louis and Texas finally erupted for 23 runs in Game 3. Those 23 combined runs marked the third-highest total in World Series history, and the clubs actually exceeded their offensive output from the first two games in the fourth and fifth innings alone, when they posted 13 runs on 15 hits.
On an individual level, Albert Pujols inserted his name into the World Series record book in a number of areas. He joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only players to homer three times in a Fall Classic game, and he turned in just the second five-hit performance in World Series history. Paul Molitor recorded the other such game, going 5-for-6 in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series against the Cardinals.
The accomplishments didn't stop there for Pujols, as he also became the first player in the history of the Fall Classic to record a base hit in four consecutive innings, which he did from the fourth through the seventh.
"We just went through this in the sense that according to some of the stats, it's the greatest of any World Series in 120 years," manager Tony La Russa said of Pujols' performance. "Fourteen total bases and the five hits, four innings in a row and five hits?
"I think the best thing to do is you make that statement and ask somebody, 'OK, show me one that was better.' I think it would be hard to do."
But in a game where the Cardinals scored a postseason franchise-record 16 runs, it wasn't just Pujols that was having a record-breaking night. While the St. Louis slugger was connecting on his base hits in those four innings, the Cardinals were busy becoming the first team in World Series history to rack up at least two runs in four consecutive frames.
St. Louis, which hadn't tallied more than three total runs in either of the first two games, erupted for four runs in the fourth, three in the fifth, four in the sixth and two more in the seventh. The fourth-inning scoring outburst started on an RBI double by David Freese, as the third baseman extended his franchise-record playoff hitting streak to 13 games, which is also the second longest in the NL in postseason history.
But lost in the blowout victory was the Rangers' own mid-game offensive surge led by yet another Nelson Cruz home run. Cruz connected on a two-run shot in the fourth to become just the sixth player in Major League history to hit seven or more home runs in a single postseason. He's also the only player to ever hit at least one home run in four consecutive home playoff games.
FREESE STAYS HOT
The Rangers matched the Cardinals in the fourth and fifth innings, putting up three runs of their own in each frame, but they couldn't keep up with the Cards on their record-setting night.
St. Louis actually tied another postseason record just two batters into the game Saturday when Allen Craig connected on a solo home run to put the Redbirds ahead, 1-0. Craig's blast marked the Cardinals' record-tying 17th first-inning run this postseason, matching the mark set by the 2003 Cubs, who were eliminated in the National League Championship Series. It was also the 10th straight game in which the Cardinals tallied the game's first run.
"I mean, there's so many guys in the lineup that had a huge night, starting with Allen," Pujols said. "Right away in the first inning, he kind of took the crowd out of the way. ... It was just a great team win. Everybody contributed. We had good quality at-bats. We just took our game plan out there, and we executed pretty much."
But in the end, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that these clubs tallied as many runs in Game 3 as they had hits in the first two games combined. After all, St. Louis led the NL during the regular season in runs scored, and Texas finished third in that category in the American League.
Not to mention, the two teams competing in the World Series had never scored as many runs in LCS play as the 82 put up by these two clubs this season.
And with at least two games left between these offensive juggernauts, it might be a good idea to just leave the record book off the shelf for the time being.
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.