Albert Pujols hits milestone homer; Angels lose again

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Don’t blame Albert Pujols; baseball’s best player over the last decade went 2-for-4 and hit his 30th homer Wednesday, yet the Angels lost their third straight to the A’s by a 4-1 score.

Pujols’ homer was his 30th of the season. He’s reached that mark all 12 seasons of his career, tying him with Jimmie Foxx for the third longest streak of all time. Only Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, who both recorded 13 straight 30-homer seasons, had longer streaks.

Pujols also tied Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 28th place on the all-time home run list at 475. Pujols was nicknamed “El Hombre” in St. Louis as a reference to “The Man” that preceded him as the Cardinals’ brightest star.

Still, for all the great company that Pujols is keeping, he’d surely rather be in Oakland’s place in the standings right now. A.J. Griffin shut out the Angels for eight innings tonight before Pujols homered to open the bottom of the ninth in a 4-0 game. The A’s held on from there to open up a 5 1/2-game lead over the Angels in the AL West, and they’ll go for a four-game sweep in Anaheim on Thursday.

At 82-60 with 20 games remaining, the A’s are three games behind the Rangers’ for the AL’s best record and the West lead. They are, however, in a commanding position in the wild card. They’re two games ahead of both the Orioles and Yankees, five games ahead of the Rays and seven games ahead of the Tigers. Two of those teams (or the aforementioned Angels) would have to pass them to deny the A’s a wild card spot.

As for the Angels, things look very dim now. Even if they salvage Wednesday’s game, they’d still be 4 1/2 back of the A’s, and with the other teams in the mix, they’d have a difficult path even if the A’s collapsed.

Video: Shin-Soo Choo hits a historic walk-off home run

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Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo hit one for the history books on Saturday as he fueled the team’s 4-3 win over the Royals with a walk-off home run in the 10th. The homer — a leadoff solo shot off of a Kevin McCarthy fastball — was Choo’s eighth of the year and 176th of his career, giving him the edge over Hideki Matsui for the most MLB home runs by an Asian-born player.

Exactly what happened to the ball afterwards is still a bit of a mystery, though the Rangers put out a PSA after the game’s dramatic finish. It doesn’t look like anyone has stepped forward with the ball just yet.

Choo, 35, is off to a solid start this season. While he’s nowhere near the .276-average, 3.4+ fWAR totals of years past, he’s batting a strong .259/.359/.423 with eight home runs, two stolen bases and a .782 OPS in 234 plate appearances so far.

His extra-inning blast gave the Rangers the necessary advantage for their 22nd win of the year. Had it not been for Bartolo Colon‘s three-run snafu in the third inning, the right-hander would have joined Choo with a historical milestone of his own: the most career pitcher wins by a Dominican-born player, with 243.