Chasing 700 and a championship: Pujols hits HR No. 698
- LOUIS — Continuing to hit home runs with great meaning — both in terms of historical significance and to the Cardinals’ chances of landing a top playoff seed — Albert Pujols hit the 698th home run of his career Friday against the Reds.
With the Cardinals trailing by two runs in the sixth inning, Pujols hit a hanging slider from Raynel Espinal a Statcast-projected 427 feet to tie the game at 4. The impact, which left his bat at 106.3 mph, pulled the slugger inside two grand slams of 700. Just three players in AL/NL history have hit 700 homers – – Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Darling Ruth – – and Pujols is making a charge to go along with them before he resigns toward the finish of this season. The Cardinals have 17 games staying after the 6-5 win at Busch Arena for Pujols to attempt to hit somewhere around two additional homers.
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“At the end of the day, it’s just about whatever you can do to help this ballclub,” Pujols said. “Obviously, when they come in a big situation like this it’s awesome. We’re pushing to try and win the division, and this is what we need.”
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Five of Pujols’ past six home runs have either tied the game or given the Cardinals the lead.
“I like when he homers then, at that point,” Cardinals administrator Oliver Marmol kidded. “That was a major swing. He keeps on doing it in significant circumstances, and that is important. It would be a certain something in the event that he was simply pursuing , however he’s adopting a unimaginable strategy and afterward conveying when we really want it most. Is it safe to say that he is pursuing 700? Indeed, yet he’s pursuing a title more than that.”
Pujols’ mammoth shot off Espinal also extended his AL/NL record to 453 pitchers he has gone deep against. He came into the season second behind Barry Bonds, but he passed him a few weeks back and he’s continued to extend the record.
Likewise, there’s this as it connects with the force of Pujols grand slams this season: The Cardinals are 15-1 in games when Pujols hits a homer. Multiple times this sAdded star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who had two hits and a RBI: “I’m simply appreciating it and grateful that I’m becoming at this time with him. Something I won’t ever become a piece of, and this is the kind of thing that we may in all likelihood at no point ever find in the future. I’m simply attempting to take it in and recollect it however long I can.”
“Tony was one of the guys who was always mad at me for taking a bunch of first pitches, but I still take a lot of first pitches,” said Pujols, who will be in the starting lineup of Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against Reds left-hander Mike Minor. “I feel like I’m a better hitter with two strikes. Really, I don’t really change [my mindset]. If it’s not the pitch I’m looking for, I take it. On that at at-bat, I actually wasn’t looking to swing at the first pitch, but I just got a good pitch to hit, and I reacted on it.”
Prior to Friday’s game, Pujols played catch with former Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández. Fernández, who was a guest of Pujols’ at the game, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He told Pujols that if he hit two home runs Friday, he might have to cancel his business trip to New York the next day.
Pujols thought he might have had a second home run when he drove a ball to the wall in the seventh inning, but it came just a couple of feet shy of being No. 699 of his career. He said he is feeling the energy from the baseball fans at Busch Arena, yet in addition the assessed 11 million individuals back in his local Dominican Republic.
“I can feel that energy, and while I’m going out there and performing, I’m going out there to address God, this association and furthermore my nation,” said Pujols, who has hit 62 homers off the Astros, 59 off the Whelps, 54 against the Privateers and 49 against the Reds. “I need to make my country glad each and every day that I step onto that field.”