HomeSportsPujols from Cards joins 700 club with two-home day

Pujols from Cards joins 700 club with two-home day

LOS ANGELES — Albert Pujols became the fourth member of the 700 home run club on Friday-evening, and he did it in a big way by launching two home runs in front of a packed crowd at Dodger Stadium.

The first homer – a 434 foot shot, two runs to left field – came from Dodgers lefthander Andrew Heaney in the third inning. The second was a three-point shot in the fourth off right-wing Phil Bickford. At that point, the St. Louis Cardinals were leading 5-0 and Pujols had racked up all of his team’s runs.

Passing home plate after his 700th homer, Pujols ran to the backstop to hug Adrian Beltre, his longtime rival and one of his closest friends. Shortly afterwards, he found Yadier Molina and emphatically wrapped him in an embrace.

The Cardinals won 11–0.

Closing the final season of a Hall of Fame career, Pujols joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth in the 700 home run club. He is the only one of them to reach numbers 699 and 700 on the same night. Pujols now has 2,208 RBIs for his career, second on the all-time list behind Aaron’s 2,297.

It’s perhaps fitting that the 42-year-old designated batter has reached an incredible milestone here at Dodger Stadium, the site he has often said played a huge part in encouraging him to play one last season in 2022.

Pujols joined the Dodgers last May, shortly after his release from the Los Angeles Angels, and regained energy when he served as a part-time starter and late-game pinch-hitter for the past five months. Effective against left-handers, he was a major influence in a veteran-laden clubhouse that fondly referred to him as “Tio Albert.”

Before the game, the Dodgers played a montage for Pujols, with Julio Urias, Hanser Alberto, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Will Smith and Dave Roberts delivering heartfelt messages. Pujols and Molina were given golf bags to commemorate their last seasons, after which Pujols took the microphone to thank the Dodgers fans and their organization.

β€œIt has brought me so much joy, not just for me, but for my family,” said Pujols, who addressed the media before the game, when asked what the atmosphere at Dodger Stadium meant to him. “I think it brought something into me, that little boy who was missing that part of the game again.”

In the final season of Pujols, he played some of his best baseball. After his 2-for-4 night on Friday, he hit .319/.381/.696 with 15 homeruns and 38 RBI’s in 48 games in the bottom half. His 15 home runs and 1,076 OPS both tie for second best in the majors during that period, behind only Yankees star Aaron Judge. The rise also coincided with the Cardinals practically walking away from the rest of the National League Central.

Pujols started this season as a platoon option with DH, but he has turned into one of the Cardinals’ most consistent hitters and is basically an everyday player as they venture into the postseason.

Pujols now has 21 home runs a year, giving him 18 seasons of 20 home runs for his career, the third most in history behind only Aaron (20) and Bonds (19). He joins Ted Williams as the only players to hit 20 home runs in both their first and last season. He owns the most multihome games after turning 42 in major league history, with four.

“I don’t chase numbers,” Pujols said earlier this week. “I didn’t chase 100 and I got 698. It’s the same – trust my process.”

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