Call it “Sleepless in St. Louis.”
Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade admitted to rethinking his options all night on Saturday after Albert Pujols’ home run in the 12th inning gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 win and sent the Cubs to a fifth straight defeat.
“If you want to really get nuts, then you can walk both [Pujols and Lance Berkman] and then pitch to whoever [Tony La Russa is] going to run up there,” Quade said. “So if you’re going to ask me what kept me up, that whole scenario did.”
Pujols, who had already driven in three runs in the game with a homer and a double, hit a slider out of the zone on a 2-1 pitch from Jeff Samardzija.
“Samardzija has been better against left-handed hitters,” Quade said Sunday. “But Berkman has been so hot, and he’s a good high-fastball hitter to me.”
Quade most likely would opt to pitch to Pujols again with the bases empty in a late-game situation. But then again, he may think twice about it if it comes up on Sunday.
“If you walk Pujols and he doesn’t beat you with a home run, you still ponder the decision,” Quade said. “But you probably get some sleep.”
Quade said he could think of only one other hitter that a manager would have considered walking in that spot -- Barry Bonds in the early 2000s.
“It’s a great debate,” Quade said. “And a second-guesser’s delight. You just walk the guy with the bases empty and two outs? [Pujols is] going to have 650 at-bats and hit 35 home runs. That’s 600 at-bats [with no home runs].
“I’d like to think we’ll do a better job attacking him in those situations [in the future] so it doesn’t happen again. He can hit a double there. We had to keep him in the ballpark and we didn’t.”