Pujols hits HRs 661, 662, tops Mays for 5th

September 19th, 2020

This time, didn’t have to wait as long.

After it took him 22 days between home runs to reach career blast No. 660 to tie Willie Mays for fifth on the all-time list, Pujols passed the Hall of Famer five days later with career shot No. 661 on Friday night against the Rangers at Angel Stadium. Pujols also smacked No. 662 for good measure, giving him his 60th career multihomer game in a 6-2 win over Texas.

Pujols revealed that Mays sent him an email after hitting No. 660 on Sunday and expects to hear from him again. They’ve forged a close bond over the years and Mays couldn’t help but joke with Pujols in his last message.

“He sent me an email and said, ‘What took you so long?’” Pujols said with a laugh. “This is really special. You're talking about Willie Mays. He's just amazing. What he did on the field was pretty special, but who he was off it, I think that's what people really honor."

It was another incredible milestone for Pujols and it came on a 1-2 fastball from left-hander Wes Benjamin in the fifth inning to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. In a fitting coincidence, Pujols, who has worn No. 5 throughout his career, hit his fifth homer of the year in the fifth inning to become fifth all-time on the home run list.

"It's awesome," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "My main thought during all this tonight is that it's too bad there are not fans in the stands. This is why we do this and why fans are so important to us."

His second blast was a solo shot on a 1-0 fastball from reliever Demarcus Evans in the seventh to give the Angels a 4-2 lead. He went 3-for-5 on the night and has now gone deep six times in 35 games this year.

“Albert has hit 662 of them,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Hats off to Albert, he is still a pretty good player. I don’t think there is anything that needs to be said to our pitchers. They threw some pitches and he hit them out.”

Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696) hit more homers than Pujols. It’s another major accomplishment for the 20-year veteran. He's already reached 3,000 hits and is the lone player to ever join the 650-homer, 650-double club. He also passed Craig Biggio for fifth on the all-time double list this season and passed Rodriguez on the career RBI list.

Pujols, though, said he’ll have to reflect on those accomplishments after his career is over. The 40-year-old noted the win moved the Angels to within 3.5 games of the Astros for second place in the division with eight games remaining, which means more to him right now.

"Hopefully we can make a push and get a playoff spot," Pujols said. "The last thing I'm trying to think about is trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark or records or anything like that. I prepare myself to help my teammates and this organization win."

His accomplishments aren’t lost on his teammates, however, as they’ve seen him set countless records and milestones. Right-hander Jaime Barria, who gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings to improve to 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA, was only 5 years old when Pujols made his MLB debut in 2001.

"I feel fortunate to be part of his historic day," Barria said through an interpreter. “Being part of him passing Willie Mays is historic and I got my first win. I'm very happy for it."

Pujols, a three-time MVP and 10-time All-Star, hit 445 homers in 11 seasons with the Cardinals and 217 in nine years with the Angels. He remains under contract through next year after signing a 10-year deal before the '12 season. He twice led the National League in homers with 47 in '09 and 42 in '10. His most with the Angels was when he smacked 40 in 2015, his last year as an All-Star. Pujols has hit 314 homers at home, 348 on the road and they've come at 38 different parks. He's also homered off 427 different pitchers.

“He’s a World Series champion, a Hall of Famer,” Maddon said. “We probably should just forget the five-year waiting program. He's all of that. He's just such a good baseball player.”