Pujols blasted a two-run home run when Detroit rookie pitcher Jason Verlander dared challenge him while Reyes retired 17 Tigers in a row as he kept his opponents scoreless for seven innings.
“I just tried to focus on the (catcher’s) glove and throw the right pitch,” Reyes said. “It’s definitely not easy. I just tried to hit my corners.”
Rookie right-hander Reyes had the game of his life as he allowed just four hits in eight innings.
Pujols hammered his first effort to power a three-run third inning and when the Tigers walked him in the sixth, he took advantage of a poor pickoff throw and a Jim Edmonds single to score again.
“If they decide to pitch around me, I know those guys and drive me in,” Pujols said. “I just try to see the ball and put my best swing of the night.”
High fives for number five Albert
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa issued a warning to the Tigers who may consider issuing intentional walks to Pujols because he hit 49 homers this season and is considered the sport’s top power hitter at the moment.
“Albert’s very dangerous but when these guys are swinging well, be careful putting him on base because it will lead to runs,” La Russa said.
But the man of the night was Reyes who was wearing his trademarked flat peaked cap.
“Keeping the cap flat helps me see the signs a little bit better,” Reyes said.
His manager was not so sure.
“That style is not that attractive,” La Russa said.
“I don’t think it’s going to be copied widely by kids in America.”
But while he may not like the hat, he was a big fan of his pitching.
“He was more aggressive after the first inning,” La Russa said.
“We wanted him to feature his fastball and work off that. He did a great job locating.”
The effort even drew praise from Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland’s.
“Reyes pitched great. He had excellent control,” Leyland said.
“He jammed us on a lot of pitches. He pitched a great game.”