CHICAGO – Albert Pujols has powered the St. Louis Cardinals to an eight-game winning streak behind a midseason surge, and he reached another milestone Monday night as his quest for 700 career home runs comes closer to reality.
Pujols took Cubs starting pitcher Drew Smyly deep in the seventh inning, a solo home run that stood as the difference maker in a 1-0 victory to open a five-game road series at Wrigley Field.
“You don’t look for a pitch up and three feet or four feet off the plate. It’s just something that you react on,” Pujols told Bally Sports Midwest on the home run. “Just glad it went out of the ballpark and gave us the lead.”
The round-tripper not only ups Pujols’ career total to 693, but gives him at least one home run against 449 unique pitchers, tying MLB’s all-time home run leader Barry Bonds for most off of different pitchers.
Pujols has been heating up in the power department recently. He has 10 home runs since the start of July and seven over the last two weeks. However, up until Monday, his last handful of home runs have came against players he has homered against before, including Milwaukee’s Aaron Ashby and Taylor Rogers, Colorado’s Austin Gomber and Arizona’s Madison Bumgarner.
It took many tries against Cubs starter Drew Smyly, a nine-year left-handed pitcher who has played for seven teams, for Pujols to pick up a home run. In his 15th head-to-head at-bat, Pujols launched an outside pitch to the Wrigley Field bleachers.
“He’s ‘The Machine’ for a reason,” Smyly said on the Cubs postgame broadcast Monday. “He’s back, so tip your cap to him.”
Only four MLB greats have more career home runs than Pujols and only three are part of the 700-home run club. The top four all-time home run leaders are Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696). Pujols is currently fifth with 693 round-trippers.
The Cardinals continue a five-game series with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday in double-header fashion.