Albert Pujols has had talent surrounding him in St. Louis, but really, there’s a reason why his teams win so often, and he displayed that at Miller Park tonight. Pujols put together a historic performance, going 4-for-5 with three doubles and a homer, effectively accounting for seven (three runs scored, five RBI, one of which was himself) of the Cardinals 12 runs. From the Milwaukee perspective, enough said.
That put the Brewers in a bad enough spot; it didn’t help that Shaun Marcum was off his game again. Perhaps one could argue that, on this night, Pujols would have rocked even Bob Gibson circa 1968. But Marcum remains a different pitcher over the past month than the one who laid claim to “staff ace” status in April and May. Thanks to a 4 IP, 5 ER performance, Marcum has now allowed 30 runs in 33 innings on 46 hits and a 19-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. As Marcum pitched his 210th inning of the year, it simply seemed more and more like his arm is dead.
Marcum tried to rely on his fastball (21/72 four-seamers, 31/72 two-seamers), didn’t throw the changeup much (11/72), couldn’t throw the changeup for strikes (3/11), and didn’t have enough of a difference between the fastball and changeup (average MPH of 86.9 and 81.5 respectively). That kind of difference works for Felix Hernandez, but he throws his fastball in the mid-90s and his changeup around 89. When the ability to change speeds goes for Marcum, the ball leaves off the bat of Albert Pujols (or Jon Jay, or Yadier Molina).
The Brewers have lost the home field advantage, as will be the cry around Wisconsin sports talk radio. But the Brewers have won at least one game in every series at St. Louis this season, and one win in St. Louis swings the home field advantage back to the Brewers. Game Three in St. Louis has the potential to be the game of the playoffs, as two staff aces coming off an excellent series (Yovani Gallardo, 14 IP, 3 ER) and the best and start of the postseason so far (Chris Carpenter’s Game Five shutout in Philadelhpia) square off at Busch Stadium.
MLB has been telling legends are born in October for the last month or so. If you want a due date, it is October 12th.