Surpassing a Legend
Sometimes, late in a great player’s career, it’s easy to forget just how good they have been for so long.
Albert Pujols has been a tremendous example of that. The 11 years that he spent with the Cardinals to begin his career are as good as it gets. Jaw-dropping type of numbers. A triple-slash of .328/.420/.617 with 445 home runs over that stretch. Destined to be remembered as one of the greatest hitters of all time.
Then -- as it so many times does -- the aging curve slows down that greatness. His tenure with the Angels has not been as memorable. While he had slugged 215 homers over nine years with the Halos, Pujols had done so while slashing a pedestrian .257/.313/.448. Still, there are days like Friday, where everyone is reminded just how phenomenal his career has been.
On Sunday, Pujols blasted his 660th home run -- tying him with the legendary Willie Mays for 5th place on the All-Time home run list. On Friday, he took sole possession of that spot. Pujols clobbered a 1-2 fastball from Rangers left-hander Wes Benjamin into the seats in left field -- the 661st home run of his illustrious career. Then, for good measure, he led off the seventh inning with another blast -- this one off of Demarcus Evans -- to increase the Angels’ lead to 4-2. Evans became the 427th pitcher that Pujols has victimized during his 20-year career.
Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez. Those are the names that sit ahead of Pujols on the All-Time home run list. That’s some pretty impressive company. Pujols has one year remaining on his contract with the Angels and he now sits 34 homers behind Rodriguez for fourth place on that list.
Like the consummate professional that he has always been, when asked about the accomplishment after the game, Pujols said that he’ll reflect on his personal accomplishments once his career is over. Then he turned his attention to the team -- and the importance of their victory on Friday -- as it pulled them to within 3 ½ games of the Astros for second place in the American League West with eight games left to play.
Pujols told reporters afterwards, "Hopefully we can make a push and get a playoff spot… The last thing I'm trying to think about is trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark or records or anything like that. I prepare myself to help my teammates and this organization win."
While he isn't the same hitter that we enjoyed for a decade while he was with the Cardinals, it's still worth taking the time to appreciate perhaps the greatest right-handed hitter of this generation and a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Straight to the Show
The White Sox made a bold move on Friday, calling up right-hander Garrett Crochet from their alternate training site. The 21-year-old southpaw was their first round pick (11th overall) from this June’s draft, making him the first player from the 2020 draft class to debut this season.
He was also the first player to debut in the same season in which he was drafted since Brandon Finnegan did so for the Reds in 2014.
He’s taking the place of the injured Evan Marshall in the White Sox bullpen. While he’ll pitch out of the White Sox bullpen this season, they still view him as a starter long-term.
Crochet got a chance to jump right into the action -- taking over for Gio Gonzalez in the sixth inning -- and man was he impressive. The left-hander mowed down Brian Goodwin and Jose Garcia on swinging third strikes, then got Tucker Barnhart to ground out to third base. He hit as high as 101.5 mph on the radar gun while firing six pitches over 100 mph and another three at 99.
He adds another major weapon to the bullpen of the first-place White Sox as they prepare themselves for the postseason. Unfortunately, he isn’t going to be much help from a fantasy perspective this season -- though the future looks increasingly bright.
Thrice is Nice
Marlins’ third baseman Brian Anderson certainly had an evening to remember as the Marlins crushed the Nationals in the nightcap of their doubleheader on Friday after getting shut out in the opener.
The 27-year-old crushed a solo homer off of Nationals starter Will Crowe in the second inning, tying the score at 2-2. He then clubbed a three-run shot off of James Bourque in the fifth inning to make it a 9-3 lead. Anderson wasn’t done though. He strolled to the plate in the sixth inning against Nationals’ infielder Brock Holt, and crushed a three-run shot to left field to make it 13-3.
For those scoring at home, that makes three homers and seven RBI on the game for Anderson. That made him just the third player in Marlins’ history to have a three-homer game -- joining Cody Ross (2006) and Mike Lowell (2004).
He also tied the team record with seven RBI in a game. That has now been done five times -- most recently by Adeiny Hechavarria in 2013.
With the three-homer night, Anderson is now slashing .273/.366/.491 on the season with a team-leading nine homers and 34 RBI. He’s leading a Marlins’ lineup in a playoff race that few would have expected coming into the 2020 season.
With the split of their doubleheader on Friday, the Marlins enter play on Saturday just ½ game ahead of the Phillies for second place in the National League East.
American League Quick Hits: Rays outfielder Austin Meadows was placed on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 2 left oblique strain. He’ll miss the remainder of the regular season and his postseason availability is in serious doubt as well… Alex Verdugo left Friday’s game for precautionary reasons due to left hamstring tightness. He’s considered day-to-day… Rangers pitching prospect Ricky Vanasco will undergo Tommy John surgery on Monday… Jorge Soler (oblique) took some live at-bats Thursday and is expected to go through another workout on Friday… The Rangers acquired minor league infielder Dustin Harris and minor league outfielder Marcus Smith from the Athletics to complete the Mike Minor trade… Dallas Keuchel (back) will rejoin the White Sox' rotation Saturday versus the Reds… Brad Peacock landed back on the 10-day injured list with renewed right shoulder soreness… Jose Iglesias was held out of the Orioles lineup on Friday due to a sore left quad and sore right shin. He’s considered day-to-day… Jake Odorizzi landed on the injured list due to a blister on his throwing hand. He says he’ll be ready for the postseason… Jesus Luzardo will start for the Athletics on Saturday against the Padres, pushing back Frankie Montas… The Red Sox acquired right-hander Jacob Wallace from the Rockies to complete the Kevin Pillar deal… Nick Pivetta could make his Red Sox debut on Tuesday against the Orioles… Rafael Dolis was pulled from Friday’s game against the Phillies due to right knee discomfort… Austin Romine left his game against the Indians with a wrist injury -- X-rays came back negative though and he’s considered day-to-day…
Cavan Biggio went 2-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base as the Blue Jays fell to the Phillies in the first game of their doubleheader… Teoscar Hernandez went 3-for-4 and blasted his 15th home run as the Jays dropped the nightcap as well… Jonathan Stiever was blasted for six runs on five hits over 2 ⅔ innings in a loss to the Reds… Zach Plesac racked up 11 strikeouts over 7 ⅔ innings of shutout baseball in a masterful victory over the Tigers… Brad Hand punched out two over a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 13th save… Michael Fulmer fired three scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts for the Tigers in that one… Austin Hays went 2-for-3 with a solo homer as the Orioles fell to the Rays… Tyler Glasnow piled up 10 strikeouts over five innings of one-run ball to earn a victory there… Rich Hill fired seven innings of one-run ball in a tough-luck loss to the Cubs… Zack Greinke fanned nine in a losing effort against the Diamondbacks… Adalberto Mondesi went 2-for-4 and stole his major league-leading 19th base in a loss to the Brewers… Salvador Perez went 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBI in that loss… Jaime Barria matched his career high with eight strikeouts over six innings of two-run baseball in a victory over the Rangers… Christian Arroyo went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI as the Red Sox fell to the Yankees… Martin Perez spun six shutout innings in a tough-luck no-decision there… Gary Sanchez blasted a game-tying homer off of Matt Barnes in the ninth inning and added a two-run double in an extra-inning victory over the Red Sox… DJ LeMahieu came through with the go-ahead RBI single in the 12th inning of that one that proved to be the difference… Matt Olson smacked a three-run homer as the A’s topped the Giants… Chris Bassitt allowed just three hits over 6 ⅔ scoreless innings to improve to 5-2…
National League Quick Hits: Sonny Gray (back) hopes to rejoin the Reds' rotation early next week against the Brewers… Dakota Hudson is dealing with a flexor issue in his right arm and was placed on the injured list -- ending his season... The Cardinals recalled Dylan Carlson from their alternate training site with the intention to give him plenty of at-bats down the stretch… Dexter Fowler (illness) is on track to return next week… Eugenio Suarez returned from the paternity leave list… The Brewers acquired minor league right-handers Brandon Ramey, Juan Geraldo and Isreal Puello from the Phillies to complete the David Phelps trade… Jon Berti (finger) played in a simulated game without issue on Thursday and is expected to rejoin the Marlins before the end of the weekend… Magneuris Sierra (hamstring) has also been playing in simulated games and is close to a return… The Marlins officially acquired Griffin Conine from the Blue Jays to complete the Jonathan Villar trade… Mike Yastrzemski was held out of Friday’s game with a minor right calf strain. He’s considered day-to-day… Ketel Marte (wrist) will take batting practice on Saturday and still has intentions of returning this season… Ryan Braun was pulled from Friday’s game against the Royals with lower back tightness… Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Friday that Jean Segura (triceps) is likely to return to the lineup on Saturday… J.T. Realmuto (hip) made progress on Friday and is on track to return to the Phillies' starting lineup on Monday...Aaron Barrett was pulled from the second game of Friday's doubleheader against the Marlins due to tightness in his triceps...
Zach Eflin fired his third career shutout (seven innings) and struck out nine in an impressive victory over the Blue Jays… Bryce Harper smacked his 11th home run to lead the offense in that one… Hector Neris worked around a couple of walks to earn a save in the nightcap… Rafael Marchan went 2-for-3 and clubbed a three-run homer -- his first career home run -- to lead the Phillies to the sweep… Ke’Bryan Hayes drove in two runs as the Pirates fell to the Cardinals in the first game of their twin bill… Kolten Wong launched a leadoff homer and Tyler O’Neill belted a two-run shot in that one for the Cardinals… Ryan Helsley locked down his first career save… Bryan Reynolds socked a two-run dinger for the Pirates as they dropped the nightcap as well… Dylan Carlson crushed a three-run homer to lead the Cardinals to the sweep… Sixto Sanchez had the worst start of his big league career in a loss to the Nationals, allowing five runs on eight hits over four innings… Erick Fedde struck out six over six shutout innings to earn a victory on the other side… Luis Garcia led the offense by going 2-for-3 with an RBI double and two runs scored… Corey Dickerson crushed a leadoff homer as the Marlins won the nightcap… Juan Soto had a pair of hits and an RBI for the Nationals in the defeat… Tyler Mahler struck out eight over 5 ⅔ innings of one-run ball in a victory over the White Sox… Jesse Winker, Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos and Tucker Barnhart all homered for the Reds in that one… Amed Rosario went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored as the Mets were pounded by the Braves… Ronald Acuna Jr., Travis d’Arnaud, Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna each left the yard for the Braves, while Ozzie Albies crushed a pair of home runs… Max Fried allowed just one run over five innings to improve to 7-0… Kyle Hendricks fanned a season-high 10 batters over eight shutout innings in a masterful victory over the Twins… Jeremy Jeffress closed that one out to earn his eighth save… Zac Gallen got back on track, allowing just one earned run over six innings in a victory over the Astros… Kole Calhoun homered twice and drove in four runs to lead the Diamondbacks in that one… Josh Fuentes went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer in a loss to the Dodgers… Mookie Betts homered, tripled and drove in three runs as the Dodgers crushed the Rockies… Cody Bellinger homered, doubled and plated three in that one as well… Orlando Arcia homered and drove in four as the Brewers routed the Royals… Christian Yelich swatted his 11th home run in that victory… Jacob Nottingham added a grand slam for the Brewers… Chris Paddack limited the Mariners to just one hit over six shutout innings in a victory on Friday… Manny Machado homered twice and plated four to lead the Friars’ attack…