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With HR, Pujols becomes third with 2,000 RBIs

Slugger joins Aaron, A-Rod as only members of exclusive club
May 9, 2019

DETROIT -- Albert Pujols knew it the second it left his bat. So did most of his teammates in the visiting bullpen. Like the future Hall of Famer has done so many times through his storied career, the 39-year-old Pujols went deep in Thursday’s third inning, slamming Ryan Carpenter’s hanging

DETROIT -- Albert Pujols knew it the second it left his bat. So did most of his teammates in the visiting bullpen.

Like the future Hall of Famer has done so many times through his storied career, the 39-year-old Pujols went deep in Thursday’s third inning, slamming Ryan Carpenter’s hanging fastball into the left-field stands. He admired his long ball before starting his trot around the bases, and for good reason.

“I knew as soon as I hit it, I knew it was gonna go out of the ballpark,” Pujols said.

Pujols’ sixth homer of the season made him the third player to reach 2,000 career RBIs and put an exclamation point as the Angels totaled 16 hits in a 13-0 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park, helping Los Angeles leave the Motor City with the series win.

Box score

“It’s obviously a huge accomplishment for him,” Mike Trout said of Pujols’ milestone. “I’m very fortunate to be a part of it. I mean, I don’t think I’ll ever see it again in my lifetime. He’s been close the last few days to getting it, and that home run today was a no-doubter.”

Pujols’ home run was part of a 1-for-4 day and ended an 0-for-15 spell, which dated back to May 4. The homer had a projected distance of 415 feet, according to Statcast. It was his 639th, leaving him 21 shy of Willie Mays for fifth all time.

“To me, it’s unbelievable,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “I know in this day and age people say RBIs are a product of opportunity. But guys like Albert drive people in from first, he’s driven himself in over 600 times, so it’s extremely special.”

Pujols joined Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez as the only members of the 2,000-RBI club, and he could be the only one to join it for some time. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is the next closest to reaching the feat at 1,649.

A complete guide to Pujols' 2,000 RBIs

“Everything that I have accomplished is very special to me,” Pujols said. “I don’t think there’s one that counts better than others. I think they’re all great. I think the best thing is you do it and you help your team win, and we end up winning the series today, and that’s more special.”

The Angels were on the board quickly after scoring a pair of runs in the first. David Fletcher led the game off with a single to left and moved into scoring position after Carpenter walked Trout on four pitches. It set the table for Shohei Ohtani, who drove Fletcher in with his first hit of the season, ending an 0-for-7 start. Trout eventually scored on a fielder’s choice to give the Halos a 2-0 lead.

Tommy La Stella hit a two-run homer in the Angels’ three-run second inning, taking Carpenter deep on a hanging slider. La Stella homered again in the Halos’ two-run seventh for his third multihomer game this year.

"They pounded the ball and knocked us around pretty good," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Carp was up early in the game. You get behind, 6-0, and you're just hoping to hold on."

The Angels opened with Luke Bard, who tossed a scoreless first and gave way to Felix Peña, who pitched seven strong innings. Cam Bedrosian closed out the game. The three held Detroit to five hits.

Pena allowed just three hits, struck out seven and did not issue a walk.

His secret? Ausmus said he has noticed Pena getting fatigued around the 50-pitch mark. After consulting with a nutritionist following his May 1 start against the Blue Jays, Pena said he tried eating between innings.

Thursday, he ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread and a couple of protein bars. The results speak for themselves.

“I’ve never tried it before, but I tried it for the first time today, and it worked,” Pena said through a team translator.

Third or fifth?

The RBI record book can be bit confusing for a couple of reasons. For starters, RBIs did not become an official statistic until 1920, which means that the Elias Sports Bureau does not consider Babe Ruth and Cap Anson to be members of the 2,000-RBI club, even though you will see them listed as having reached that milestone on certain sites, such as Baseball Reference, which retroactively includes all RBIs accrued prior to 1920. Per Elias, the only players to officially accrue 2,000 RBIs are Aaron, Rodriguez and now Pujols.

Additionally, due to the uncertain nature of record-keeping in the early part of the 20th century, some discrepancies exist between the stats provided today by different historical data providers. For example, some sources list Lou Gehrig as having 1,995 RBIs, while Elias has him at 1,994.

All-time RBI leaders, per the Elias Sports Bureau
1) Hank Aaron: 2,297
2) Alex Rodriguez: 2,086
3) Albert Pujols: 2,000
4) Barry Bonds: 1,996
5) Lou Gehrig: 1,994