Albert Pujols became the sixth player in Major League baseball history to reach 650 home runs and the first to accompany those blasts with 650 or more doubles in the Angels’ 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
“I think it’s 20,000-plus players that have come through this game,” Pujols said, “so to be able to be the only one to do that is pretty special.”
In the weeks since the All-Star break, Pujols has proven himself indispensable to a team attempting to gain ground in the wild-card race. His game-tying home run in the sixth gave him a .300 (15 for 50) average in his last 12 games. He has 17 RBIs in that span and 62 this season.
“He’s been remarkable,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
Just how remarkable Pujols has been can be easy to overlook. He has not hit above .270 or slugged better than .788 since 2014. The last time he played in at least 120 games was in 2017.
Now free of the knee and arm ailments that cut short his 2018 campaign, Pujols has avoided the injured list. He is on pace to play in 125 games.
“Just watching him hit today, the ball he hit down the right field line yesterday, I mean, it’s just amazing to watch what he can do at the plate,” said rookie Matt Thaiss, who hit a walkoff homer to seal the victory. “I’m just trying to absorb as much as I can.”
With 10 more homers, Pujols would reach Willie Mays on the all-time list.
Strange but true
As is custom, Mike Trout has been one of the best hitters in baseball this month. Entering Sunday, he had driven in 28 runs and slugged .887 in July. Only one qualified player paced him in each category.
But when he singled to left in the third inning Sunday, it became apparent that Trout has had a hard time pleasing those who rely on batting average on balls in play. It was just his fourth single in 19 games. The rest of his 22 hits went for extra bases, including a league-leading 12 home runs. His .200 BABIP was eighth-lowest in the major leagues.
Advanced statistics paint a better month. Before action Sunday, Trout was fourth in weighted on-base average (.489) and third in weighted runs created-plus (216).
Weighted on-base average applies different values to the methods of reaching base on a scale, so that a home run is worth more than a walk. Weighted runs created-plus, meanwhile, measures a player’s ability to create runs in a formula that can be used to compare all hitters. A score of 100 is average.
“I’ll just keep taking extra base hits,” Ausmus said. “Not really worried about it right now.”
The shuffling of bullpen pieces continued, and Jose Rodriguez was collateral damage. The morning after his major league debut, Rodriguez was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday to make room for fellow right-hander Luke Bard. … Justin Upton did not start Sunday’s game. It was only his second game off since the All-Star break. The outfielder has slumped the last two weeks, batting a measly .196 (10 for 51) with three doubles, two home runs and six RBIs. Ausmus, familiar with Upton from their time in Detroit, said he was not concerned by the outfielder’s production. … Monday’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers will be broadcast exclusively on YouTube. Rich Waltz, Mark Langston, Tom Verducci and Jon Paul Morosi will announce the 7 p.m. game.