Already with one record-setting performance under his belt, Albert Pujols looks for another record to close out April when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Washington Nationals at Busch Stadium in the finale of their four-game series.
Pujols broke the record with an eighth-inning line drive into the Cardinals bullpen in right field, snapping a 1-1 tie.
“It’s always a thrill to see history,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “But to see it in a game situation like that adds a little more to the story we’re all going to tell some time.”
Pujols has 32 RBIs this month, equaling the Cardinals team record set by Mark McGwire in 1998.
“I don’t play for records—I play to win games,” he said. “It definitely was good today to hit it and at the same time to win the game.”
Pujols, batting .350 this season, is 1-for-4 against Zach Day, the Nationals’ starter on Sunday.
Day (1-2, 10.80 ERA) is making his return to Washington’s rotation after being traded to Colorado last July for outfielder Preston Wilson. He was designated for assignment by the Rockies on April 21 after struggling in his first three starts. The Nationals claimed him off waivers on Wednesday.
Washington manager Frank Robinson said there are no hard feelings stemming from an incident last May in which Day turned his back on Robinson when the manager came to the mound to remove him from the game.
“I’m not a guy to talk about what’s happened before,” Robinson said. “He’s coming back, he’s here and I judge him on what he does.”
“It’s not in the back of my mind and I hope he does the same things. This is a fresh start for him.”
Day has battled muscle spasms in the back of his shoulder, but should be fine to start. He gave up eight runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings against San Diego in his last start on April 19.
Day is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA in two career games against the Cardinals, but hasn’t faced St. Louis since 2003.
The Cardinals (16-8) set a team record for victories in April with their win on Saturday and have won eight of their last 10 games.
“We have another month after (Sunday),” Pujols said. “Hopefully, we’ll get 16 more wins.”
Jeff Suppan (1-2, 5.85) starts for the Cardinals. He had a rocky start to 2006, but rebounded to earn his first win on Tuesday, giving up four hits and no earned runs in seven innings against the Pirates.
He is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA in six career games against the Nationals.
St. Louis is 7-2 on its season-high 10-game homestand. The Cardinals, who are 11-4 at the new Busch Stadium, open a seven-game road trip on Monday at NL Central-leading Cincinnati.
Washington (8-16) has lost six of its past seven games.