LOS ANGELES (AP) – Albert Pujols looked like a long shot in early August to hit 700 home runs, more than a dozen holy mark swings and his blow for nearly all of his power.
Or so it seemed.
Now showing pop to his youth in the final weeks of his career, the 42-year-old got there by two long cuts.
Pujols achieved 700 on home soilcontinuing his second drive to the game and becoming the fourth player in Major League history to reach a milestone as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-0 on Friday night.
The Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) at one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.
“Don’t get me wrong, I know where I stand in this game, but from day one when I debuted, I’ve never been interested in numbers, never chasing numbers,” Pujols said. “It was always about winning trophies and trying to get better in these games.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was gleefully excited about Pujols’ achievement.
“This is like Mount Rushmore for commuters, so getting to the run mark of 700 home, it’s pretty cool,” Roberts said.
A man in a blue Dodgers jersey with Hideo Nomo’s No. 16 on his back grabbed the Homer’s No. 700 ball. He was carried under the stands while clutching a black glove containing the historic souvenir ball to his chest. Lengthy negotiations continued before the man emerged from Dodger Stadium flanked by ten security personnel and in a waiting SUV.
Souvenirs for the masses,” Pujols said. “I have no problem if they want to keep it. That’s why fans come here to have a special moment in history.”
Thrilling photos of his dominant days as a triple player NL MVP, Pujols hit number 699 In the third inning, then fired the number 700 in the fourth.
The 37-year-old Los Angeles man, Cesar Soriano, got number 699. He handed the ball over to security after being told he could meet the Pujols.
It was a great, new race for the Pujols. This was his 14th on the turf since the beginning of August with the NL Central’s Leading Cardinals, and 21st of the season.
Roberts marveled that Pujols were not likely to make history in July in late September.
“I wouldn’t doubt it, but it looks like the stars have to align with the game to play like that,” Roberts said. “I don’t think Albert even thought that was a possibility.”
Now, no one needs to wonder if Pujols would be back for some extra flop next year had he finished the season at 699 or so.
Pujols was pleased to make his mark at Dodger Stadium, as he said he reclaimed his joy in the game while with the Dodgers last season.
“It’s so special, especially with Dodgers fans, that you’re doing it here,” Pujols said. “And you can see both sides, and they have fun with it, and doing it in a Cardinals costume is really special.”
Homer’s historic Pujols was a three-round shot against loyalist Phil Beckford. The ball landed in the first two rows of the left wing, in the same place where his two-running shot hit the previous inning of Andrew Henney’s left.
“At first, I was upset…and then when the fans responded and saw all the smiles, it was a very special moment for MLB,” Pickford said. “Albert Pujols is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.”
Pujols ran around the bases smiling along the way. After crossing the plate and pointing his fingers at the sky, Pujols went to greet fellow Dominican Republic and former Dodgers star Adrian Belter. They survived through the protective net.
Then he went to the Cardinals’ lair, where he received hugs and congratulations every step of the way.
Pujols received an extended welcome from fans – he finished last season while playing for the Dodgers. Taking a curtain call, he raised his hat in appreciation.
The crowd of 50,041 people chanted “Pugoules! Pujols!” The fans finally sat down after standing on their feet in anticipation of seeing the date.
Later at the Cardinals club, Pujols said, “His teammates gave me some showers, a little toast.”
Homer’s Pujols 700 gave him a number of other nice round numbers as well – he hits the house 500 times from the right hand and 200 from the left.
His achievement was celebrated after Chavez Raven.
At Chase Field in Phoenix, the San Francisco Giants were gathering on the hill when Homer 700 was shown on the video board, sending veteran third baseman Evan Longoria to applause, along with the Diamondbacks crowd.
At Target Field in Minneapolis, Shohei Ohtani convinced the Los Angeles Angels to win and then said through an interpreter, “I’m really happy he made it to 700. … It was an honor to be his teammate. He’s been shining this year, so it looks like he might keep Lots in the tank.”
Hall of Fame player Pedro Martinez tweeted of his fellow Dominican star: “You’re the guy!!”
Pegging the Pujols twice on the same night, New York Yankees player Aaron Judge stayed aboard for his home run date. He stayed at 60 houses, far from tying Roger Maris AL’s 61 mark in 1961, in a win at Yankee Stadium.
Pujols hit the swing on his first racket against Heaney and slipped back to sixth. He was replaced on the eighth by Burleson, who added Homer with a pinch.
Jose Quintana (6-6) They got the victory. He split five hits over 6 and 2/3 of innings and hit six.
Cardinals player Corey Dickerson placed ninth. With the rules loaded, Tracee Thompson retired on a volleyball to finish the game.
Heaney (3-3) is ranked in the most uneven loss of the year for the Western NL-leading Dodgers.
Pujols cut the tie with Alex Rodriguez to finish fourth on the careers list when he hit Homer’s No. 697 against Pittsburgh on September 11.
Hitting .189 on July 4, Pujols began finding a stroke in August, hitting seven hurdles in one 10-game run that helped St. Louis withdraw in the class race.
The Pujols have enjoyed a productive season after returning to St. Louis in March for $2.5 million for one year. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 barnyard owners with the Angels in 2019.
He plans to retire when the season is over.
Pujols began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 Amateur Draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year.
He hit no less than 0.300 with at least 30 hits and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals win world championship titles in 2006 and 2011.
He hit his career highs with 49 Homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with no less than 40 Homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.
The Pujols left St. Louis on free agency in December 2011, and signed a $240 million 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, then joined the Dodgers, hitting 12 homers and leading in 38 runs in 85 games.
Dodgers: All-Star RHP Tony Gonsolin (crank) will cast two rounds of rehab mission Tuesday for Triple-A Oklahoma City. …LHP David Price will throw (his wrist) to the live hitters again in a couple of days.
Tribute to Albert and Yadi
The Dodgers honored fellow Pujols and catch Yadier Molina, both of whom will retire at the end of the season.
The players were greeted with a standing ovation as they walked to the home plate before the match. The highlights of their career were shown on the big stadium screens.
Both players got white golf bags before Pujols took the mic and thanked his former teammates and fans for treating him so well during his only season in Los Angeles last year.
Cardinals: LHP Jordan Montgomery (8-5, 3.26 ERA) starts his second streak with the team since coming from the Yankees. He threw one punch in another against the Chicago Cubs on August 22 in a 1–0 win.
The Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-3, 2.39) makes his 20th start of the season. He has 117 hits in 109 1/3 runs.
Associated Press freelance writer Joleen Latimer contributed to this report.
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