It hasn’t been the most rewarding of periods since signing for the Los Angeles Angels. But after two rough seasons, being overpaid and under performing, Albert Pujols is playing like the guy he was before, blasting home runs at an alarming rate, and reaching the 500 club with two in the 7-2 win over the Washington Nationals.
Pujols started the day with a three-run homer on his first at-bat of the game, hitting one 387 feet off of Taylor Jordan who was having a very bad day on the mound. The second home run was a two-run homer, once again helping Mike Trout bring in a run, as Pujols’ hit went 430 feet, once again with Jordan pitching to him, ending the day after five innings, giving up six runs. For Pujols, it became his 499th and 500th home runs of his career and 8th of the season.
All eight home runs have come over the last 13 games. Right now, he is projected to hit 65 home runs this season. It is safe to say that won’t happen. But after a rough couple of weeks to start the season Pujols is blasting away, reaching 19 RBIs this season (leading the team) and his batting average rising to .298. This is all in contrast to last year in which he missed 63 games, finishing with only 17 home runs (first time in his career he’s under 30) and batting an awful .258.
But the injury seems to be over, and watching Pujols belt home runs really far away seems to indicate he is 100% again. Not just in his body, but in his head. His first season with the Angels was good, but when someone arrives for an enormous contract, good often isn’t satisfying. The disappointing, shortened second season probably didn’t help ease the pressure from him. The Angels not doing too well wasn’t very helpful.
It was a good game for Tyler Skaggs as well, allowing only two runs in his seven innings, giving up only three hits while striking out five batters and walking four. The Angels didn’t hit all that well once Jordan was replaced for the final four innings, but the damage was done thanks to Pujols hitting his fourth home run in five days, currently leading all of baseball in that category and trailing only Chris Colabello in RBIs (22) among AL players.
It tastes better with a win. I knew this year, it was going to happen, whether it was tonight, tomorrow, two months from now. So my goal was just to prepare myself every day to try to help this organization win. To have more than 19,000 players who wore a big league uniform and to have only 26 players to do this, it’s pretty special. I was pretty emotional running the bases.