Albert Pujols is a big hit in Angels' loss

Albert Pujols is a big hit in Angels' loss
Angels slugger Albert Pujols celebrates a solo home run against Chris Archer in the fourth inning. It was the Angels only run in a 6-1 loss to the Rays. (Kevin Sullivan / Associated Press)

On the West Coast, a slugger has a milestone coming up that his team's owner will be delighted to pay.

There will be no threats, no contractual loopholes, no suggestion that a team that markets ballpark dirt cannot market a milestone.


When Albert Pujols gets his 3,000th hit, the Angels will salute him, with confetti and fireworks and a check for $3 million from grateful owner Arte Moreno. If he catches Barry Bonds at 763 home runs, the Angels will pay him another $7 million.

That probably is not going to happen — but, after the past week, never say never. Pujols hit his sixth home run in six games Tuesday, in the Angels' 6-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

"When he gets going, he's in a class of his own," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's on everything."

Chris Archer, the major league leader in strikeouts, stopped the Angels on six hits and no walks over eight innings. He struck out 15, tying the Rays' record, and he ended the Angels' winning streak at five games.

The Angels tied their club record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game.

The only Angels starter Archer did not strike out was Pujols. On Tuesday, Pujols went deep in the fourth inning, and he came within a few feet of going deep again in the eighth.

And he was delighted, even if you could not tell from looking at the replays.

"You can definitely tell he's excited," Iannetta said, "but he's very professional about it.

"He knows how to handle himself on the field. He never shows anybody up. ... With Albert, it's pretty subdued."

His teammates say they can tell, even in the absence of a fist pump or bat flip.

"You can tell he's got that energy about him," Iannetta said. "He's truly savoring the moment."

Pujols leads the Angels in home runs. In his previous three seasons with the Angels, Pujols never has hit more than 30. In his 11 seasons in St. Louis, he never hit fewer than 32.

Pujols has 14 home runs, fourth in the American League. He is on pace for 43, a total he has not reached since 2009.

"I couldn't even imagine what it's like to have a career like that," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said, "and pass a Hall of Famer every time you hit a home run.


"And his career is far from over. He's going to have a lot more of that to come."

Pujols' career total is 534 homers, which ties Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx for 17th on the all-time list. If he were to hit 43 home runs this season, he would need to average 33 for the remaining six seasons of his contract to catch Bonds.

"Every time he hits a home run, there's another immortal he's in the same sentence with," Scioscia said. "It's fun. It's exciting."

Pujols could slug his way into the top 10 next season, by passing Mark McGwire (583), Harmon Killebrew (573), Rafael Palmeiro (569), Reggie Jackson (563), Manny Ramirez (555), Mike Schmidt (548) and Mickey Mantle (536).

Pujols is 97 home runs from catching Willie Mays for fifth on the all-time list.

And that 3,000th hit? He has 2,568 now. So probably 2017 or 2018.

It will be a long time coming, but the Angels will be happy to celebrate, and to pay up.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin