Albert Pujols took a 91 mph fastball from Yu Darvish off his helmet Sunday afternoon, falling to the ground in a scary moment for the Los Angeles Angels and all involved. The slugger had sustained just a glancing blow and was OK physically, quickly getting to his feet and shuffling to first base after catcher J.P. Arencibia and first baseman Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers checked on his health. Fielder even escorted Pujols to first base. Everyone appeared to be friendly. Pujols didn't seem like he was about to make a left turn for the mound to confront Darvish. But was everything OK?
Pujols' beaning happened in the bottom of the fifth inning with the Rangers ahead by seven runs; Texas won 14-3. The score might have had something to do with Pujols's muted reaction. However, if you read between the lines when Pujols was quoted by reporter J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News, he also seemed to issue a warning after the fact:
“I was just lucky I got out of the way at the right time,” Pujols said. “I’m just glad nothing crazy happened. If he was going to hit me intentionally with the score 9-2, then he’s an idiot. But I don’t think that happened. The ball just slipped out of his hand, and that’s it. Believe me, if I would have known that was on purpose, I would have charged the mound. But I don’t think anything like that happened.”
You "believe" Albert, don't you? I do. The timing of Pujols getting hit was curious, as it came a half-inning after Shin-Soo Choo of the Rangers was hit by Michael Kohn of the Angels. In the sixth, Kohn threw inside to Alex Rios of the Rangers, prompting a verbal response by Rios after the at-bat ended.
“I have no idea what (Rios) said,” Kohn said. “I didn’t hear.”
That was the final shot fired, if they could be considered shots at all. Angels manager Mike Scioscia downplayed the sideshow.
But does it sound over? Totally over, with everybody? It's fairly assumed that Darvish wasn't trying to hit Pujols in the head. But he might have been pitching inside with the purpose of making Pujols hit the deck. And Kohn seemed to fan the flames — unless going inside against Rios was another coincidence.
The next meeting between the Angels and Rangers — one of 16 more in 2014 — comes in June at Anaheim. If something else happens then, it probably won't just be happenstance.
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