10/05/06 9:56 PM ET
Pujols is man in middle of Cards' attack
MVP candidate drives in winning run for second straight game
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The fact that left-hander David Wells pitched to Pujols at all with none out and a runner on second was a matter of conjecture on Thursday."I'm not surprised that they would pitch to him in that situation because we have great hitters behind him," said Cards second baseman Ronnie Belliard. "You have to pitch to him because [Scott] Rolen can come up behind him and hit a homer or a double, and after that there is Edmonds and [Juan] Encarnacion. All those guys can put the ball in play." Pujols, who has been beating the Padres like a drum the last two weeks, also won a key regular-season game at St. Louis during the last week of the season, when manager Bruce Bochy pitched to him with runners on first and second in the eighth inning, and Pujols hit a three-run homer that won the game. On Thursday, Wells got two quick strikes on Pujols and narrowly missed a called third strike on a pitch that might have shaved the outside corner of the plate. Big Albert then did his usual damage. Bochy said it might be high time to start walking Pujols in those situations. "I'm going to have to start thinking about it," Bochy said. "I had a guy out there who can locate the ball as well as anybody. He made some great pitches and got ahead in the count. Pujols just got a ball up there a little bit that he could handle." Said Wells: "I don't have a problem pitching to Albert. He's a great hitter, yeah, but you can get him out. I mean, I got him out in the first inning [with a double-play grounder], but the pitch I threw to him was a cutter in. It was off the plate and he drew his hands in and that's what happens. Good hitters will do that. But I don't feel I need to pitch around him in that situation with a base open."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.