ARLINGTON, Texas -- There was a time this season when baseball people snickered that St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols picked a bad time to have a bad season. After all, he'll become the game's most coveted free agent this winter.
Pujols finished the regular season batting .299, the first season of his 11-year career below .312, and 99 RBIs, his first time below 103. But, go ahead and shake off those paltry regular-season numbers (in 147 games, second-fewest in his career after he returned from a broken wrist in just two weeks after a four-to-six-week prognosis). Shake them off because in 11 postseason games, Pujols is batting .419 with 10 RBIs.
In the NLCS, he tortured the Brewers, batting .467 with six extra-base hits and nine RBIs.
"I certainly hope that he's not another [Miguel Cabrera]," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the Detroit Tigers slugger who hit .400 and walked seven times against Texas in the ALCS. "You've certainly got to watch yourself with him because he can hurt you in many ways. We'll just see how the game dictates how we should handle him."
Among Rangers pitchers, only reliever Mike Adams, the former San Diego Padre, has faced the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Pujols, who typically hits third in the potent Cardinals lineup. Adams retired him in both matchups, including a strikeout.
For everyone else, pitching to Pujols will be a new and surely exciting experience.
"He's a big guy and you just can't be scared," lefty starter Derek Holland, who has pitched Game 2 and 6 in the ALDS and ALCS. "He is Albert Pujols, but we're also trying to make a name for ourselves as well."
Colby Lewis said he's not scared.
"He still puts his pants on just like I do every day so I've got to go out there and get him out," Lewis said. "It doesn't matter what happens. He's been a great hitter for a long time just as Cabrera. We've got the same amount of guys in this clubhouse. If everybody gets hot at the right times we should be all right."