Albert Pujols admitted over the weekend that he’s “hurting real bad” while playing through plantar fasciitis in his left foot and for now at least the Angels’ plan is to use him at designated hitter to lessen the wear and tear on the injury.
Pujols started his fifth straight game at DH last night, with Mark Trumbo at first base, and the two-time Gold Glover talked to Ben Platt of MLB.com about his status:
I’m able to play first base, too, if I wanted to. It just gets to a point sometimes during the game, by the fifth or sixth inning, it starts getting real sore. I think being the DH as of right now is the best thing to do to try to stay away from planting it as much. It’s nothing different than what I went through and what I have gone through in my career. It’s something that I know how to handle.
Pujols’ greatness has always come from his amazing hitting, of course, but his defense and baserunning were underrated parts of his game for a long time. Not only has he been a very good hitter rather than a great hitter since joining the Angels, the added value he once brought as a fielder and runner has all but disappeared.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, the team crowned ace Justin Verlander the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.