(Busch Stadium) The celebration of Albert Pujols returning to St. Louis reached new heights this afternoon as the now-Angels slugger received not just a standing ovation, but the curtain call after he sent a pitch over the left field wall into the Los Angeles bullpen.
“Trying to walk around the bases and getting to the plate and trying to get into the dugout and hold everything in, that was hard,” Pujols said. “That was pretty special. God is good. It’s amazing. I give him first all the credit to do this. Too bad we lost the game, but was able to do something special for the fans. It’s been amazing.”
It was the first home run for Pujols in St. Louis since September 22, 2011.
“You don’t think much, you just hear the crowd as you’re walking around the bases and everybody being excited,” Pujols said. “Even when they walked me yesterday, they were booing Wacha–I’m pretty sure he didn’t take that personally because these are the best fans in baseball. Like I said, this moment, I’m pretty sure that tomorrow will be even better. It’s going to be out there for me–for my career, for my family, my wife Deidre and my five kids, and my friends and family that are here in town. Just a moment that I will treasure forever.”
The crowd of 46,711 had remained on their feet throughout the at-bat and raised their volume until Pujols appeared on the top step of the dugout and waved his helmet. Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson, who’s 59 consecutive innings without allowing a home run was the longest active streak in MLB, waited patiently on the mound during the salute before resuming game action.
Hudson finished with a line of 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts.
HICKS vs TROUT
–Today’s game also featured a matchup between Jordan Hicks and Mike Trout. The Cardinals 22-year old reliever came into the 8th inning to face Trout with the bases empty and one out. A 99mph fastball put him ahead 0-1 and Hicks followed with an 82mph breaking pitch for strike two. An 86mph pitch was out of the zone, as was a 101mph offering. But on the fifth pitch, 84mph on the outside of the plate froze Trout for the strikeout.
An inning later, Pujols led off against Hicks. Fans booed when an up and in breaking pitch caused Pujols to back away from the plate. Hicks brought the 100mph heat on the next two pitches, with the last leading to a Pujols ground out to Kolten Wong.
Hicks retired the next batter, but immediately after Yadier Molina visited him on the mound and summoned a trainer.
“I just felt it the back of my triceps, the last couple of throws,” Hicks shared. “They say it’s triceps tendinitis. A couple of days, see where we’re at and get re-evaluated. Maybe one or two days throwing off and be back in, maybe a week–who knows? But at this moment right now, just triceps tendinitis and we’re working through it.”
photo credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports