Opening Day 2018: National League Central Previews

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This could be the best division in the National League. Yes, there’s a Super Team in the Chicago Cubs, but both the Brewers and the Cardinals made some big improvements in the offseason. I personally think all three playoff teams come from this division, but even if they don’t, all three will be in the conversation all year long. The Pirates say they’re reloading, but it looks like rebuilding to me. The Reds are on the verge of setting the record for the longest rebuild in history. Will it be year five of around 70 wins? If so, does Bryan Price still manage to survive it somehow?

Our previews:

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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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).