FLUSHING, N.Y. — It was to no one’s surprise that Albert Pujols stepped into a perfectly marked batter’s box and made history with the stroke of the bat as the end of his Hall of Fame career looms in the distant Fall shadows. The 42-year-old veteran surpassed another milestone Wednesday night when he passed Hall of Famer Eddie Collins for 10th place on the Major League Baseball all-time hits list with career-hit No. 3,314.
With the game tied at two, Pujols knocked a 93-mph four-seam fastball from New York Mets ace Max Scherzer in the top of the fourth inning, granting him sole possession of 10th place after tying Collins for the honor in the bottom of the first inning. In the third game of a four-game series against the Mets at Citi Field, Pujols linked two singles in his first two plate appearances of the game, going 2-for-4 and knocking in two RBI with his first-inning single in the Cardinal’s 11-4 loss to the Amazin’s.
To our surprise, the 10-time All-Star would continue his big night by putting on his track cleats, stealing his 117th career stolen base when taking off for second after his historic hit, catching Mets catcher Patrick Mazeika and all 32,798 fans by surprise.
“It was good to see,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said on Pujols — who is seven years older than the Cardinals skipper — moving up the record books. “… There’s certain players that just enjoy the big moment, the tough challenge, and Scherzer is exactly that playing here tonight, we knew it was going to be a fun environment. So seeing him come through is pretty typical for Albert.”
Since returning to the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols proved his prominence as he collected his 11th hit of the season over 17 games. The Cardinal’s designated hitter has a season slash line of .239/.375/.413 with two homers and six RBI.
Pujols has fond memories in Queens, playing in front of the Mets crowd in Shea Stadium from 2001 through 2008, and Citi Field from 2009 to the current and final series the Cards will play in New York.
“Great history, going back-and-forth with the Cardinals … when two great organizations go at it, (and) play great baseball, those are great memories you’re going to take with you.”
As we embrace the warmth of May and the official start of summer just a little over a month away, Pujols has utilized the first month and a half of the season to guide and answer questions of younger players within the organization.
“The earlier they learn in their career, the better it’s going to be for their career … it takes me back to myself — 22 years ago — just asking questions, it’s gonna get better,” Pujols said as he reflected on the time he turned to former Cardinals players Mark McGuire, Edgar Renteria, Jim Edmonds, and Placido Polanco for questions regarding their baseball knowledge and experience when beginning his career in 2001.
When asked what’s on his bucket list, the two-time World Series champion responded:
That’s why I’m here to play. Hopefully, I can end my career to help win another championship this year.”
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