Pujols, Upton made history with B2B HRs

Notes: Ohtani asks to be in lineup, injury updates

April 27th, 2021

Lost in the shuffle of Shohei Ohtani's impressive night pulling double duty and Mike Trout’s 4-for-5 performance against the Rangers on Monday, veteran sluggers and made some history of their own in the Angels’ 9-4 win at Globe Life Field.

Upton and Pujols connected on back-to-back blasts off right-hander Jordan Lyles in the third, giving them 979 career homers in total. It’s the third-most combined homers between teammates hitting back-to-back homers in a single game in Major League history, per Elias. The record is 1,099 homers between Alex Rodriguez (694) and Carlos Beltran (405) with the Yankees on June 3, 2016, while the second-most came back on May 28, 1934, when Hall of Famers Babe Ruth (694) and Lou Gehrig (311) hit consecutive blasts with the Bronx Bombers.

Pujols, 41, has been showing off his power thus far this season, as he entered Tuesday with five homers in 18 games, giving him 667 career long balls. He's batting .222/.279/.460 with 11 RBIs in that span.

“The ball has been coming off real hot,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s on balance a lot. He’s feeling pretty good about himself right now and that’s what I’m seeing. He’s kind of turning into a Benjamin Button.”

Upton, 33, also entered Tuesday with five homers in 19 games, elevating his total to 312 for his career. He's batting .239/.304/.479 with 12 RBIs and has four homers over his last nine games.

“He came in yesterday after his first at-bat and was disappointed in himself because it was a pop-up but the pop-up was crushed,” Maddon said. “He said if he got that next pitch again, he wouldn’t miss it, and he didn’t. He’s seeing the ball well. I think his approach is outstanding. He’s hitting a lot of balls hard.”

Ohtani asks to be in the lineup
Despite striking out nine batters over five innings while also going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored on Monday, Ohtani wanted to be back in the lineup again on Tuesday. As a result, the two-way star was back in there at designated hitter, hitting second against Texas in the second game of the series.

“He approached me last night and said 'I want to hit tomorrow,'” Maddon said. “So I said, ‘You got it. As long as you feel well.’ That’s been part of our agreement. He was ready to rock and roll, so we put him back out there.”

Maddon added that he hadn’t heard anything new about the minor blister that began to develop on the inside part of Ohtani’s right middle finger from throwing his splitter. But it’s not expected to be an issue, and Ohtani is expected to be on track to start again next Monday against the Rays at Angel Stadium.

Veteran Kurt Suzuki is also expected to remain as Ohtani’s personal catcher for the time being, as Maddon has liked the way the two have built up their rapport as a battery.

“It’s one thing we’d like to try to set up,” Maddon said. “Shohei is a creature of habit. I’d like to keep that consistent with him. Some of those blocks he made yesterday on the splitters were fantastic. And I do think Shohei likes familiarity behind the plate.”

Stassi, Lagares nearing return
Catcher Max Stassi (left thumb sprain) and Juan Lagares (left calf strain) could be reinstated from the injured list as early as Wednesday. Stassi caught a bullpen on Monday and has been hitting without any issues. Lagares has been testing out his calf with high intensity running and hasn’t had any setbacks.

“Lagares has been chomping at the bit and is ready to rock and roll,” Maddon said. “Stassi, same thing. So they’re going to be able to play any moment now. Just waiting on final approval from the players and medical staff.”

Stassi said he hopes to be activated soon, adding that this has been a tough injury to fully recover from.

"I've been close for a while," Stassi said. "It's just a weird injury. Obviously, I sprained the thumb and it started progressing pretty good but then it plateaued for a while. I feel like I'm finally getting over that hump and hopefully I'm in there in the next couple days."

Doubleheader vs. Twins requires separate tickets
Major League Baseball announced that the Angels will host a doubleheader against Minnesota on May 20 starting at 1:07 p.m., a make-up of the two games postponed from April 17-18 due to COVID-19 issues with the Twins.

Tickets to the game scheduled for April 17 will be good for Game 1, while tickets to the game scheduled for April 18 will be good for Game 2. Fans can visit www.angels.com/credits for more information.