It almost gets old for Albert Pujols. Every time he hits a home run, he etches himself further into history.
But Pujols acknowledged the meaning of his latest accomplishment, given that it literally spans the globe. The Angels’ future Hall of Famer hit his 610th career home run Tuesday night to give him the most home runs by a foreign-born player.
“It’s pretty special,” Pujols said. “Obviously, all the great players from the Dominican Republic, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, they’ve gone through the big leagues and to be able to accomplish something like this is very humbling. I thank God for giving me the ability, the talent and the opportunity to be able to do it.”
Pujols drove a 2-2 slider from Texas Rangers reliever Nick Gardewine - in his major league debut - into center field in the seventh inning of a 10-1 win at Angel Stadium. He broke a tie with Sammy Sosa and took sole possession of eighth on the all-time list.
“I played against him when I was coming up, right in the middle of his prime,” Pujols said of Sosa. “Great player and obviously a pretty special moment.”
It was the topper to an excruciatingly slow-paced game the Angels needed as they are half a game out of the American League’s second wild-card spot.
It also provided the bookend contrast to Kaleb Cowart, the Angels’ No. 9 hitter who broke open the game earlier with a three-run homer in the fifth inning, his fifth career home run and third in August.
To get in the same game as Pujols’ historic home run?
“That was pretty cool,” Cowart said.
The Angels cranked out 16 hits by 10 batters.
“We’ve been getting great at-bats,” Pujols said. “We’re getting better breaks, hitting some balls hard and now they’re falling where before it was crazy for a while there. It’s good. This is the right time. This team needs it.”
Pujols nearly clubbed a home run in the first inning but the ball hit the wall in center field for a double to bring Mike Trout home for the game’s first run. Trout has hit safely 28 times in 34 games since he returned from injury.
It took awhile for runs to manifest with slow-working starters Ricky Nolasco of the Angels and the Tyson Ross of the Rangers. Nolasco gave one run but threw 101 pitches in 4 2/3 innings.
“Definitely did not have his best stuff tonight,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He found his slider a little bit later, but 101 pitches through four-plus innings is a lot.”
Ross needed 80 pitches to get through the first three innings and was relieved after Kole Calhoun’s RBI double in the fourth inning.
Ben Revere bruised his left knee and is day-to-day, Scioscia said, after he fouled a ball off his leg in the fourth inning.
Revere singled and stole a base in his start in place of Cameron Maybin, who pinch hit. Scioscia said before the game that Maybin feels good but also that they’ll continue to ease him back from a knee injury.
JC Ramirez was waiting to talk to medical personnel but said he was told that, generally, he needed to go “a couple of weeks without throwing” as he recovers from a strained elbow.
That scenario would push his return to September at the earliest. Asked if he would be able to pitch again this season, Ramirez said, “I’ll do everything possible to do it. I want to finish strong.”
Ramirez said he didn’t think it was anything more than soreness when he left his last start. The question of overuse comes into play because Ramirez has never previously handled a starter’s workload in the majors until this season. But he said he has felt great.
“It just happens,” Ramirez said. “[But] some guys say, ‘You’re not used to this kind of innings … it could be [that] maybe you need the rest.’ ”
Andrew Bailey was also expected to consult a doctor but he expressed serious doubt about returning this season from a re-occurring shoulder strain.
“That’s a decision that is not up to me,” Bailey said. “I’d try to pitch through it. For me, I’d be out there 100 percent, trying to grind. But I think the trainers and doctors think right now it’s at risk for major injury due to some of the instability and the strain.”
Bailey threw a pitch to Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals on Aug.15 and said he “felt a little slipping sensation in that shoulder joint.”
He doesn’t regret returning at that point because he was healthy and that it was time to attempt a return. But now he’s looking at another possible long rehabilitation.
“When you injure your shoulder and then you do the rehab and it’s still not the same, you just don’t know,” Bailey said.
Yunel Escobar (oblique strain) is taking ground balls … The Angels wore socks that pictured Tim Mead, their longtime vice president of communications, during pregame activities. … Jahmai Jones extended his hitting streak to 24 games for Class A Inland Empire.