Cubs nemesis Albert Pujols punctuates rivalry with epic parting shot

·7 min read

You don't have to like Cardinals to appreciate Pujols originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Talk about a parting shot.

In his final at-bat of his career against the Cubs, all-time Cardinals great Albert Pujols did what all-time greats do — this time punctuating one of the most prolific Cub-killing careers in the history of Cubs killers with a two-run exclamation point.

His 59th career home run against the Cubs was an eighth-inning game winner in a scoreless game Sunday that swept the Cubs out of town and pushed his career total to 695 with 28 games left in what he insists will be his final season.

“He’s The Machine for a reason,” said the pitcher who gave up the home run.

Wait, no. That was what the last Cubs pitcher who gave up a home run to Pujols — Drew Smyly — said after that seventh-inning homer less than two weeks earlier beat the Cubs 1-0 at Wrigley Field.

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Pujols has hit more homers against the Cubs than any team except the Astros (62) and, with the Cubs-Cards season series completed, finishes his career against the Cubs with a .292 average, .605 slugging percentage and .999 OPS.

Cubs rookie left-hander Brandon Hughes on Sunday became the 451st different pitcher Pujols has homered against, two more than Barry Bonds’ previous record (Pujols tied the record against Smyly).

Sunday’s parting shot — off the bench, no less — certainly was a fitting end, if not summation, to 199 games of trading blows with Pujols that began in 2001 and included sporadic meetings with his Angels from 2013 through 2019, until he returned to the Cardinals for his final season this year.

And you don't have to like the Cardinals to appreciate Pujols.

Of course, that might not apply to the immediate aftermath of Sunday's home run.

As much as Sunday’s blow could have been worse for the Cubs if they were fighting for a playoff spot and as “momentous” as one Chicago columnist suggested the scene was in the bigger picture after the game, Cubs manager David Ross seemed in no mood to wax historic about the moment or join the ample chorus in singing Pujols’ praises.

“Look, they’re a really good team, and they’ve got some guys that have been a part of multiple championships,” he on the postgame broadcast when asked about the Pujols moment, “and they’ve got momentum on their side right now. They’re playing really good baseball … And then a Hall of Famer steps up and hits a pinch-hit homer. Just one of those — you’ve got to tip your cap to them. Our guys competed really hard and just came up a little short.”

Pujols put the moment in the context of winning the game when talking to St. Louis media afterward.

“It’s just pretty special to be able to do that,” said the man — The Machine — who is now one home run short of  Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the all-time list.

Cardinals’ manager Oliver Marmol was more than willing to appreciate the history and magnitude of the moment for Pujols career as he basked in the sweep that pushed the Cards’ lead atop the division to 8 1/2 games.

“There are times in this game where you take a step back from being locked into the game and you get to be a fan for a minute and experience it the way everyone else is,” Marmol told St. Louis media after the game. “That was one of them.

“You take it all in because what he’s doing is absolutely incredible.”

And that’s the thing, whether you’re a Cardinal, like Marmol, or hate the Cardinals like most Cubs fans.

Few opponents have put on the career displays against the Cubs that Pujols has. And Cubs fans can at least take some solace in the fact they’ve finally seen the last of him against their team — maybe even the last player to do as many of the things he did against the Cubs as often.

In fact, two of his four career three-homer games came against the Cubs, in 2004 and 2010, and he added a two-homer game in 2011.

His first homer against the Cubs was the 12th of his career, off Kyle Farnsworth on May 12, 2001, in St. Louis (he added his 13th the next day). His first Wrigley Field home run was against Kerry Wood, July 28 of that year — in a game current Royals manager Mike Matheny caught for the Cardinals, current White Sox fill-in manager Miguel Cairo pinch hit for the Cubs and current Cubs broadcaster Ron Coomer started at third for the Cubs.

He hit his 300th career home run off Cubs reliever Bob Howry on July 4, 2008, an eighth-inning solo shot in a 2-1 victory by the eventual division-champion Cubs.

He hit 55 against the Cubs as a Cardinal; four as an Angel.

The Cubs went 18-36 in games Pujols homered against them.

The complete list of Pujols’ home runs against the Cubs (career HR number in parentheses), with Cubs game outcome (bold face indicates multi-HR game):

  • (12) May 12, 2001, in St. Louis — L, 5-2

  • (13) May 13, 2001, in St. Louis — L, 13-4

  • (25) July 28, 2001, in Chicago — L, 7-4

  • (53) June 23, 2002, in Chicago — W, 8-3

  • (68) Aug. 30, 2002, in Chicago — L, 6-3

  • (69) Aug. 31, 2002, in Chicago — L, 8-1

  • (81) May 17, 2003, in St. Louis — W, 2-1

  • (82) May 19, 2003, in St. Louis — L, 2-0

  • (96) July 4, 2003, in Chicago — L, 11-8

  • (97) July 5, 2003, in Chicago — W, 6-5

  • (106) Aug. 26, 2003, in St. Louis — W, 7-4

  • (122) May 3, 2004, in St. Louis — W, 7-3

  • (125) May 21, 2004, in Chicago — L, 7-6

  • (126) May 23, 2004, in Chicago — W, 4-3

  • (134) June 23, 2004, in St. Louis — L, 10-9

  • (136) July 9, 2004, in St. Louis — L, 6-1

  • (139) July 20, 2004, in Chicago — L, 11-8

  • (140) July 20, 2004, in Chicago — (L, 11-8)

  • (141) July 20, 2004, in Chicago — (L, 11-8)

  • (164) April 20, 2005, in St. Louis — W, 3-1

  • (192) Aug. 11, 2005, in Chicago — W, 11-4

  • (193) Aug. 13, 2005, in Chicago — L, 5-2

  • (196) Sept. 5, 2005, in St. Louis — L, 6-4

  • (197) Sept. 7, 2005, in St. Louis — W, 2-1

  • (212) April 21, 2006, in St. Louis — L, 9-3

  • (237) Aug. 18, 2006, in Chicago — L, 11-3

  • (255) April 22, 2007, in Chicago — L, 12-9

  • (256) April 28, 2007, in St. Louis — W, 8-1

  • (273) July 26, 2007, in St. Louis — L, 11-1

  • (276) Aug. 17, 2007, in Chicago — W, 2-1

  • (277) Aug. 18, 2007, in Chicago — W, 5-3

  • (278) Aug. 19, 2007, in Chicago — L, 6-4

  • (281) Sept. 14, 2007, in St. Louis — W, 5-3

  • (288) May 3, 2008, in St. Louis — W, 9-3

  • (300) July 4, 2008, in St. Louis — W, 2-1

  • (306) Aug. 9, 2008, in Chicago — L, 12-3

  • (315) Sept. 9, 2008, in St. Louis — L, 4-3

  • (326) April 25, 2009, in St. Louis — L, 8-2

  • (333) May 21, 2009, in St. Louis — L, 3-1

  • (351) July 10, 2009, in Chicago — L, 8-3

  • (376) May 30, 2010, in Chicago — L, 9-1

  • (377) May 30, 2010, in Chicago — (L, 9-1)

  • (378) May 30, 2010, in Chicago — (L, 9-1)

  • (389) July 25, 2010, in Chicago — L, 4-3

  • (395) Aug. 13, 2010, in St. Louis — L, 6-3

  • (396) Aug. 15, 2010, in St. Louis — W, 9-7

  • (408) Sept. 26, 2010, in Chicago — L, 8-7

  • (418) June 3, 2011, in St. Louis — L, 6-1

  • (419) June 4, 2011, in St. Louis — L, 5-4

  • (420) June 4, 2011, in St. Louis — (L, 5-4)

  • (421) June 5, 2011, in St. Louis — L, 3-2

  • (432) July 30, 2011, in Chicago — L, 13-5

  • (439) Aug. 21, 2011, in Chicago — L, 6-2

  • (484)* June 4, 2013, in Anaheim — L, 4-3

  • (489)* July 9, 2013, in Chicago — W, 7-2

  • (490)* July 10, 2013, in Chicago — L, 13-2

  • (635)* April 12, 2019, in Chicago — W, 5-1

  • (693) Aug. 22, 2022, in Chicago — L, 1-0

  • (695) Sept. 4, 2022, in St. Louis — L, 2-0

*-With Angels.

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