DALLAS: Albert Pujols smashed his way into the record books Saturday by hitting three homers and driving in six runs in one of the greatest single performances in World Series history.
Pujols hit homers in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings lifting the St Louis Cardinals to a 16-7 win over the Texas Rangers to join the illustrious company of former New York Yankees Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson.
“It’s pretty special,” said Pujols, of the Dominican Republic. “Those guys are great players and to do it at that level and on this stage is amazing. Hopefully at the end of my career I can look back and say, wow, what a game it was in game three in 2011.”
The 31-year-old had a three-run blast in the sixth, two-run shot in the seventh and a solo homer in the ninth for just the fourth three-run home run performance in World Series history.
He joins Ruth (who did it twice in ’26 and ’28) and Jackson (’77). Pujols said he never dreamed his name would be spoken in the same breath as those two legendary hall of famers.
“I didn’t walk into the ballpark today thinking I was going to have a night like this,” said Pujols, who can become a free agent at the end of the season.
Pujols also set a World Series record with 14 total bases, breaking the old mark of 12 that belonged to Ruth and Jackson.
His five hits equals the World Series record, set by Paul Molitor 29 years ago. He also had hits in four straight innings.
Runs came at a premium in the first two games of the World Series but that wasn’t the case in game three which allowed the Cardinals to take a 2-1 series lead.
Pujols’ most majestic moment was a towering 423-foot missile that bounced off the cement wall on the front of the upper deck in the top of the sixth inning, giving the Cards a commanding 11-6 lead.
St Louis manager Tony La Russa called Pujols’ performance the greatest in the history of Major League Baseball’s championship series.
“It’s the greatest of any World Series in 120 years,” La Russa said. “Fourteen total bases and five hits, four innings in a row. The best thing to do is make that statement and ask somebody to show me one that was better. I think it would be hard to do.”
The magical performance comes just two days after Pujols was criticised following a game two loss for sneaking out the back door of the Cardinals dressing room to avoid reporters who wanted to ask him about a fielding error that contributed to the 2-1 loss.
Asked if the criticism provided him with extra motivation Saturday, Pujols said he always comes ready to compete and wasn’t trying to dodge anyone.
“I left the clubhouse when nobody approached me,” said Pujols who hit 37 home runs in the regular season. “I feel embarrassed because everybody is focussing on that and I was in the middle of it.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he might have to change his game plan in game four against Pujols and walk him more.
“When the opportunity presents itself to put him on the bag I am not going to let him swing the bat,” Washington said. “He just didn’t miss. I saw him on TV but I will tell you, tonight was something special.”