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Cards need Pujols to deliver in clutch

Cards need Pujols to deliver in clutch

Credit: AP

St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols (5) walks off the field after grounding out for the final out of an interleague baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Friday, June 17, 2011, in St. Louis. The Royals won 5-4. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

by Doug Vaughn

KMOV.com

Posted on August 10, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 10 at 1:07 PM

(KMOV)-- Albert Pujols has been such a dominant force in the first 11 years of his career that we've come to expect him to deliver the big hit in the clutch moment every time he steps into the batters box with the game on the line. But this year, that hasn't happened very often. Albert had a couple of chances to win the game for the Cardinals last night against the Brewers, including a 9th inning at bat with the winning run at second, but he popped out weakly to right. Albert was oh for 5 last night and saw his batting average dip to .279.

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It's totally unfair to blame Albert Pujols for the Cardinals being four games out of first place and struggling to keep up with Milwaukee. Without him, they'd be hopelessly out of the race. But the fact is unless Albert starts hitting more like the Albert we've seen in the past, the Cardinals aren't going anywhere this year. There's a reason he's been widely considered the best player in the game; he always seemed to come through when the Cardinals needed him the most. This year has been different. Albert has looked almost human. He's hitting more than 40 points below his lifetime average. He's still a terrific player, and again, without him the Cardinals would be a non-factor in the pennant race. But if the Redbirds are going to have any hope of catching the Brewers the stars have to play like stars. Albert Pujols is the biggest star the Cardinals have, and unless he shifts into high gear over the last month and a half of the season the Cardinals will miss the playoffs for the 4th time in the last 5 years.

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