Angels slow to start 2013

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The L.A. Angels, some prognosticators’ pick to win the AL West, have stumbled out of the gate to a 2-8 start, dead last in the division. As I write this, they trail the Astros, some prognosticators’ pick to win fewer than 55 games, 2-0 a night after getting blanked 5-0. With a loss tonight, they would be in danger of a series sweep tomorrow afternoon.

Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the Halos. Josh Hamilton, whom they signed to a five-year, $125 million contract over the off-season, entered the night with a .492 OPS. Mike Trout, the defending AL Rookie of the Year, is hitting .227 with no homers. Jered Weaver is out until late May with a fractured elbow. The starting rotation has otherwise been dreadful, posting a 6.02 ERA entering tonight, the third-worst mark in the Majors.

That being said, all the Angels have to do to keep the faith is look at Albert Pujols. Many pronouced the slugger dead last season when he entered May with a .570 OPS and no home runs. From the start of May through the end of the regular season, Pujols posted a .910 OPS with 30 homers.

Their -23 run differential through ten games is their third-worst in franchise history. Their fourth-worst? They were at -20 through ten games in 2002, the year they won 99 games during the regular season and the World Series.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).