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Keeping good company: Albert Pujols becomes fourth-youngest player to hit 450 home runs

The slump is over.

A summer long hot streak now appears inevitable.

It took a lot longer than most of us expected, but Albert Pujols has finally settled into his new home, and is nearing the dominant form the Los Angeles Angels emptied the bank for. If you need evidence, look no further than the line drive home run Pujols hit in the Angels 3-0 win over the Mariners on Thursday night.

But the impressive blast held a little more significance than a simple reminder of how consistently beautiful Albert's swing is about to become. It was also a personal milestone and an all-around noteworthy accomplishment, as he became the 35th member of the 450 home run club, and the fourth-youngest to reach the mark behind only Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Jimmie Foxx.

Decent company, we'd say.

Naturally, Pujols himself had little to say about the individual achievement after the game. He's just happy to be progressing, making better contact and helping the Angels claw back into contention.

''This game comes and goes. I think the main thing is to be positive all the time and continue to make sure to make good adjustments,'' Pujols said. ''Today I swung the bat pretty well, but tomorrow is a new day, you have to try to be consistent.''

Actually, if you go back over Albert's past 13 games, you'll find he's been swinging it consistently well for awhile, having hit safely in 12 of them. That helped raise his average from a putrid .195 to a slightly more respectable 225. He's also connected on four home runs and driven in ten. Production that almost looks modest by his usual standards, but is certainly a far cry from the production that made himself and the Angels a punchline for the first six weeks of the season.

Those jokes are about to become outdated.

With Pujols heating up, Mike Trout emerging, and a pitching staff that has already hurled a league best seven shutouts solidly in place, the Angels are beginning to resemble the team many predicted would cruise into the playoffs, and in the eyes of many others, play for a World Series ring come the last week of October.

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