Albert Pujols is one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all-time and a sure-fire Hall of Famer. It’s safe to say though, that at age 39, the superstar slugger has seen his offensive production fall off in recent years.
This weekend though, Pujols has been making memories.
Playing as a visiting player at Busch Stadium for the first time in his illustrious career, Pujols was treated to several standing ovations during Friday’s game. You wouldn’t expect anything less after the guy spent the first 11 seasons of his career in St. Louis, brought home three National League MVP Awards, Rookie of the Year honors, nine All-Star Game selections, six Silver Slugger Awards and two Gold Gloves.
Oh, and don’t forget World Series titles in both 2006 and 2011. It’s easy to see why Pujols is a legend in St. Louis.
On Saturday though, he gave the Cardinals’ home faithful one more moment remember him by, blasting a solo homer off of Dakota Hudson in the seventh inning. Pujols received another standing ovation from the crowd and raucous cheers as he rounded the bases -- an extreme rarity for any visiting player in any park.
The Cardinals’ fans wanted more though. They didn’t stop cheering and didn’t sit down once Pujols returned to the visiting dugout, prompting him to remove his helmet and come out for an emotional curtain call, thanking his adoring fans for the wonderful moment.
When talking to reporters after the game, Pujols described the emotions of rounding the bases in that situation -- ““I’m trying to go around the bases and get to the plate and get to the dugout and hold everything in," Pujols said. "It was hard. That’s pretty special. Too bad we lost the game, but to do something special for the fans, it’s amazing."
Cardinals’ manager Mike Shildt was also in awe of the situation, explaining “When something like that happens, it’s a unique situation. What a special moment for him and for the whole stadium and Cardinal nation. He’s an icon. A living legend. Very few of them have a chance to come back and perform. It is unusual, for sure, but thankfully it didn’t factor into the ending result of the competition.”
The blast was his first at Busch Stadium since he took Chris Capuano deep on September 22, 2011.
As far as this season goes, Pujols has still been a steady run producer in the middle of the Angels’ lineup, despite the uncharacteristically poor batting average. With Saturday’s blast he’s now hitting .233/.308/.449 with 13 homers and 41 RBI.
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From one player making memories at the tail end of an unbelievable career, to one that’s taking the league by storm in his first few weeks in the show.
He also singled and walked in the contest, finishing the night 2-for-4. Alvarez is now slashing .326/.431/.791 with six homers and 14 RBI in his first 11 big league games. He's just the fourth player in the modern era to hit six or more home runs in his first 11 games, joining Trevor Story, Carlos Delgado and Dino Restelli.
Trouble for Treinen
Blake Treinen fantasy owners raised an eyebrow on Saturday when it was Liam Hendriks who came on to protect a two-run lead against the Rays in the ninth inning, and shortly after the game we found out why.
Athletics’ manager Bob Melvin announced after the game that Treinen was being placed on the 10-day injured list after an MRI revealed a right shoulder strain.
Treinen himself admitted that it’s an issue that has been bothering him for several weeks now, though he made sure to say that his recent struggles were not solely because of the injury. Treinen also described the injury as a rotator cuff strain.
While Treinen wouldn’t pin his struggles on the injury, it’s hard not to think that it has played a role. The right-hander owns a disappointing 4.08 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over 35 ⅓ innings in his 30 appearances this season.
The Athletics seem cautiously optimistic about his prognosis, and believe that sitting him down for a couple of weeks will alleviate the issue. In the meantime, the ninth inning is expected to belong to Hendriks, making him an interesting short-term addition in all fantasy formats.
The 30-year-old right-hander has been outstanding out of the Athletics' bullpen this season, compiling a 1.49 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 50/17 K/BB ratio across 42 1/3 innings.
The long ball was Alonso’s 26th of the season -- tying Darryl Strawberry’s franchise record for most home runs in a season by a rookie. Forget rookie records, at this rate he may take the overall franchise record for most long balls in any season -- currently held by Carlos Beltran (2006) and Todd Hundley (1996) who each smashed 41 homers.
The 24-year-old also doubled and scored a pair of runs in Saturday’s win, raising his season slash to .274/.362/.632 to go along with the aforementioned 26 homers and 60 RBI. He’s going to play a major role in many fantasy owners taking home their respective league titles this season.
Worth the Wait
Wilkin Castillo -- playing in his first big league game in 10 years -- delivered a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh inning on Saturday, propelling the Marlins to a 5-3 victory over the Phillies.
Castillo had his contract purchased from Triple-A on Friday and immediately made an impact in his first game with the club. He's not going to be a major run producer, and won't even find his way into the lineup on most days, but this was still a cool moment for a 35-year-old who hadn't played in a big league game since he was a member of the Reds in 2009.
Having gone 1-for-1 in his last game with the Reds on June 20, 2009, Castillo is actually now riding a two-game hitting streak that has spanned more than a decade.
American League Quick Hits: George Springer (hamstring) is on track to return to the Astros’ lineup on Tuesday, provided he makes it through the weekend’s rehab games without any setbacks. … The Twins signed longtime former Indians’ closer Cody Allen to a minor league contract. He’ll try to get back on track at Triple-A before joining the Twins’ bullpen. … Rafael Devers was held out of the Red Sox’ starting lineup again on Saturday as he recuperates from a mild hamstring strain. … The Rays purchased the contract of 25-year-old Mike Brosseu from Triple-A Durham after he slashed a monstrous .313/.406/.579 with 14 homers and 57 RBI in his first 66 games. … Jonathan Schoop was scratched from the Twins’ lineup due to a sore right ankle. He’s considered day-to-day. … The Indians cut bait with Leonys Martin, designating the 31-year-old outfielder for assignment. … According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Indians’ top prospect Bobby Bradley could get the call to the big leagues as soon as Sunday. … Jose Berrios was removed from Saturday’s start against the Royals in the eighth inning due to a blister on his right ring finger. … Cameron Maybin is expected to miss an extended period of time (possibly six weeks) with his Grade 2 calf strain. … C.J. Cron homered and drove in two runs, including the game-winner, as the Twins topped the Royals in extra innings. … Aaron Civale impressed in his MLB debut on Saturday, striking out six over six shutout innings in a victory over the Tigers. … Matt Chapman homered and drove in a pair, leading the Athletics past the Rays… Jonathan Villar clubbed a three-run homer as the Orioles topped the Mariners. … Giancarlo Stanton went 2-for-4 and collected his first four RBI of the season as the Yankees topped the Astros. … Nomar Mazara slugged a pair of home runs and drove in three, powering the Rangers past the White Sox… Tim Anderson went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI in the loss.
National League Quick Hits: Nick Senzel was held out of the Reds’ lineup on Saturday after leaving Friday’s game with a migraine headache. Given the vertigo issues he has battled in the past, it’s a situation worth monitoring. … Victor Robles was forced to exit Saturday’s game due to dehydration. He received fluids through an IV and expected to be fine. He’s listed as day-to-day. … Gregory Polanco landed on the 10-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation. … Jordan Hicks was removed from Saturday’s outing against the Angels with one out remaining due to tricep tendinitis. The club is hopeful that a couple of days off will alleviate the issue, though he may undergo an MRI on Sunday. … Ketel Marte (groin) was held out of the Diamondbacks’ lineup on Saturday, but he reported much improvement and is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday… The Diamondbacks acquired Ben Lively from the Royals for cash considerations. … David Freese was unavailable for the Dodgers on Saturday due to a knee issue, and it’s possible he could be heading to the injured list. … Zack Wheeler struck out five over seven innings of one-run baseball in a victory over the Cubs. … Marcell Ozuna belted his 20th home run in a victory over the Angels… Josh Hader struck out four over two innings against the Reds as he recorded his 18th save of the season… Chris Paddack gave up two runs on five hits over five innings in his return to the Padres’ rotation… Freddie Freeman had two hits and drove in five runs -- giving him 61 RBI on the season -- as the Braves rallied to beat the Nationals… Juan Soto went 3-for-4 with a triple and four RBI in a losing effort there. … Alex Verdugo went 4-for-6 with a pair of home runs -- including a walk-off solo shot in the bottom of the 11th inning -- leading the Dodgers past the Rockies… Ian Desmond went 4-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI in that loss… Alex Dickerson doubled twice and drove in three runs on Saturday, leading the Giants to victory over the Diamondbacks. Dickerson has now driven in nine runs in his first two games with the Giants. Only one player in MLB history has plated more runs in their first two games with any team -- that was Francisco Arcia who drove in 10 runs in his first two games with the Angels in 2018.