And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 5, Blue Jays 4: A battle of reigning Cy Young winners decided by a bases loaded walk to an Obama birther. Good times. I watched most of this one. Price and Dickey were OK, but not great. It was, like, the third straight home Rays game I’ve watched where Dick Vitale was noted in the crowd and discussed by the announcers. Does that happen every time, Rays fans?

Indians 9, Athletics 2: Welcome back Scott Kazmir. This wasn’t his first outing, but he certainly announced his return with authority against Oakland, striking out out ten batters in six innings and showing a velocity we haven’t seen in years.

Yankees 3, Rockies 1: Over two hours worth of rain delays meant that CC Sabathia couldn’t get the win, but he was certainly pitching well enough for it when the game got delayed. Five relievers shut out the Rockies for the remaining five innings.

Nationals 5, Tigers 4: The Nats have won four in a row. Dan Haren dodged a lot of bullets with the Tigers hitting the ball hard early, but they just hit ’em at people. At least until Matt Tuiasosopo hit a pinch-hit three-run homer. After that the bullpen locked it down. Detroit swept Atlanta two weeks ago and now get beat in both games of a two-game series to Washington. I’m going to assume this means the Tigers have money the Nats to win the N.L. East.

Royals 6, Orioles 2: The Royals avoid the sweep behind Jeremy Guthrie. He’s 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA. The Orioles probably wondered if this was the same Guthrie they traded away before last season.

Mets 3, Pirates 2: All Mike Baxter does is win games with late pinch hits. Well, he probably does other stuff, but he’s won games with late pinch hits twice this week. On Tuesday in the 10th inning against the White Sox and again here with a walkoff RBI single. And check out this home run, or at the very least double-robbing catch from Juan Lagares in the ninth.

Twins 5, Red Sox 3: Minnesota takes three of four from the team that had the majors’ best record when the series began. John Lackey’s throwing error on what should have been an inning-ending double play led to four unearned runs by the Twins in the sixth. If I was Lackey after the game I would have said something like “well, my defense really let me down today. Those were unearned runs, man. Not MY fault.” Then sat back in my locker and waited for questions, arms-crossed.

Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 1: Patrick Corbin, best starter most people haven’t heard of yet. He’s 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA and outdueled Cole Hamles here. Four straight wins for Arizona.

Braves 6, Giants 3: A homer and two other hits and three driven in for Brian McCann. Craig Kimbrel with his 100th career save. He’s the second youngest to reach 100. K-Rod was the youngest. Here’s hoping that’s not some sort of omen for Kimbrel.

Angels 6, Astros 5: When a late game of lefty/righty matchups ensured, Bo Porter pulled one reliever for another without the first one ever facing a batter. Which is totally against the rules. Except the umpires didn’t realize it. Mike Scioscia tried his best to inform them of their and Porter’s error, but to no avail. He protested the game but the Angels won anyway. I sorta feel like the Astros should be allowed to do this given all the other problems they have but I suppose rules are rules.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.