ANAHEIM -- Jose Pujols' march to 600 is complete, and he got there in unprecedented, grand fashion.The 37-year-old Angels slugger crushed the milestone home run -- a two-out grand slam into left field -- off Twins right-hander Ervin Santana in the bottom of the fourth inning on Saturday in the
ANAHEIM -- Jose Pujols' march to 600 is complete, and he got there in unprecedented, grand fashion.
The 37-year-old Angels slugger crushed the milestone home run -- a two-out grand slam into left field -- off Twins right-hander Ervin Santana in the bottom of the fourth inning on Saturday in the Angels' 7-2 win over the Twins.
"To be able to to do it front of the fans, my family is pretty special," Pujols said.
Pujols is the first member of the 600-club to earn his membership via grand slam. It was the sixth granny of a record-setting seven hit on Saturday, setting a Major League record for grand slams hit in one day.
:: Albert Pujols 600-HR club coverage ::
Pujols said he felt relieved after finally reaching the achievement, as he had been pressing in recent at-bats with the milestone just one connection away.
He also credited his wife, Deidre, who texted him during the game and told him to treat it like any other at-bat.
"Before I hit the home run, she told me, 'You need to stay back and just look for a pitch to hit!'" he said. "I'm glad that I listened to her."
According to Statcast™, the hit had a 100.5 mph exit velocity and 42 degree launch angle, with just a 12 percent hit probability.
The connection granted Pujols entry into one of Major League Baseball's most exclusive clubs, as he became only the ninth player to ever hit 600 home runs, joining:
Barry Bonds (762)
Hank Aaron (755)
Babe Ruth (714)
Alexander Rodriguez (696)
Willie Mays (660)
Ken Griffey Jr. (630)
Jim Thome (612)
Sammy Sosa (609)
Pujols is the first player to reach the historic benchmark since Thome, who did it for the Twins on Aug. 15, 2011. At 37 years and 139 days, Pujols is the fourth-youngest player to hit 600 homers. He and Sosa, a fellow Dominican, are the only players born outside the United States to accomplish the feat.
"I'm just glad to be on that list," he said. "It's a pretty special feeling. You look at all the players that come through the league, to play so long to be No. 9 -- it's pretty special.
"It's an honor and privilege to be named in the same list and same sentence with those guys, but I really try to stay focused on my goal, and that's to go and be the best teammate I can be. And hopefully, help this organization to win. That's the truth."
Pujols launched his 599th career home run off Bartolo Colon in the third inning of the Angels' 6-3 win over the Braves on Tuesday. He did not homer in his next 16 at-bats, extending his pursuit to Saturday.
When he stepped up to bat in a two-out, bases loaded situation on the cusp of No. 600, the tension perhaps would have been felt ten-fold. But Pujols said he as relaxed as he had been since hitting No. 599 and was simply trying to get a good pitch to hit and knock a base hit.
:: 600-HOME RUN CLUB ::
"Really in that at-bat, I was really calm," he said. "I didn't know I was going to hit it out, but I knew I was going to have a good at-bat, because it was a different feeling than the first two at-bats that I had, and I was able to put a good swing on that slider."
Pujols, a three-time National League MVP and 10-time All-Star, is only three years removed from his 500th career homer. He belted No. 499 and No. 500 in the same game against the Nationals on April 22, 2014.
Pujols became one of the most feared sluggers of his generation over his 11-year tenure with the Cardinals, when he hit .328 with a 1.037 OPS and averaged 40 home runs and 121 RBIs per season. He signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels before the 2012 campaign, though age and a spate of lower-body injuries have stunted his production in recent years.
He remains a dangerous hitter, though, as he proved for the 600th time on Saturday night.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.