Albert Pujols hits career home run No. 698

ST. LOUIS — Continuing to hit residence runs with nice which means — each when it comes to historic significance and to the Cardinals’ possibilities of touchdown a prime playoff seed — Albert Pujols hit the 698th residence run of his profession Friday in opposition to the Reds.

With the Cardinals trailing by two runs within the sixth inning, Pujols hit a dangling slider from Raynel Espinal a Statcast-projected 427 ft to tie the sport at 4. The blast, which left his bat at 106.3 mph, pulled the slugger inside two residence runs of 700. Only three gamers in AL/NL historical past have hit 700 home runs — Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth — and Pujols is making a charge to hitch them earlier than he retires on the finish of this season. The Cardinals have 17 video games remaining after the 6-5 win at Busch Stadium for Pujols to attempt to hit no less than two extra residence runs.

“At the tip of the day, it’s nearly no matter you are able to do to assist this ballclub,” Pujols mentioned. “Obviously, once they are available an enormous scenario like this it’s superior. We’re pushing to try to win the division, and that is what we’d like.”

Five of Pujols’ previous six residence runs have both tied the sport or given the Cardinals the lead.

“I like when he homers then,” Cardinals supervisor Oliver Marmol joked. “That was an enormous swing. He continues to do it in significant conditions, and that’s what issues. It can be one factor if he was simply chasing [700], however he’s taking an unbelievable strategy after which delivering after we want it most. Is he chasing 700? Yes, however he’s chasing a championship greater than that.”

Pujols’ mammoth shot off Espinal additionally prolonged his AL/NL document to 453 pitchers he has gone deep in opposition to. He got here into the season second behind Barry Bonds, however he handed him a number of weeks again and he’s continued to increase the document.

Also, there’s this because it pertains to the ability of Pujols residence runs this season: The Cardinals are 15-1 in video games when Pujols hits a house run. Three occasions this season he’s hit two residence runs, and the Redbirds are 3-0 in these video games.

“It’s unbelievable, man. Usually with followers, they rise up when the ball’s hit, however right here they’re already up,” marveled star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who had a double, a single, two RBIs and the defensive play of the night time by throwing Cincinnati’s Kyle Farmer out on the plate from his knees. “It’s loopy and totally different. When the followers knew it was gone, they had been going nuts. It’s simply actually cool to be part of this. Seriously, it’s one of many coolest issues I’ve ever seen.”

Added star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who had two hits and an RBI: “I’m simply having fun with it and grateful that I’m attending to be on this second with him. It’s one thing that I’ll by no means get to be part of, and that is one thing that we would by no means see once more. I’m simply attempting to take it in and keep in mind it for so long as I can.”

Pujols hit the primary pitch he noticed from Espinal for a house run Friday. It was the 89th first-pitch residence run of Pujols’ profession. The solely counts the place he’s hit extra residence runs have come on 1-1 (99 HRs) and 1-0 (92). Pujols famous that former Cardinals supervisor Tony La Russa used to attempt to get him to swing at extra first-pitch strikes, however he mentioned he’s extra comfy hitting later in counts after he’s seen a number of pitches.

“Tony was one of many guys who was all the time mad at me for taking a bunch of first pitches, however I nonetheless take a variety of first pitches,” mentioned Pujols, who might be within the beginning lineup of Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader in opposition to Reds left-hander Mike Minor. “I really feel like I’m a greater hitter with two strikes. Really, I don’t actually change [my mindset]. If it’s not the pitch I’m searching for, I take it. On that at at-bat, I truly wasn’t seeking to swing on the first pitch, however I simply obtained a great pitch to hit, and I reacted on it.”

Prior to Friday’s sport, Pujols performed catch with former Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández. Fernández, who was a visitor of Pujols’ on the sport, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He instructed Pujols that if he hit two residence runs Friday, he might need to cancel his enterprise journey to New York the following day.

Pujols thought he might need had a second residence run when he drove a ball to the wall within the seventh inning, nevertheless it got here simply a few ft shy of being No. 699 of his profession. He mentioned he’s feeling the power from the baseball followers at Busch Stadium, but additionally the estimated 11 million folks again in his native Dominican Republic.

“I can really feel that power, and once I’m going on the market and performing, I’m going on the market to signify God, this group and likewise my nation,” mentioned Pujols, who has hit 62 homers off the Astros, 59 off the Cubs, 54 in opposition to the Pirates and 49 in opposition to the Reds. “I wish to make my nation proud each single day that I step onto that discipline.”

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