Pujols ties Mantle with homer No. 536
ST. PETERSBURG -- Albert Pujols tied Mickey Mantle for 16th place on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field when he led off the fifth inning with a blast to right off Rays right-hander Nathan Karns for home run No. 536. It was his 16th homer of the season.
"It's pretty special. Obviously, Mickey's a legend in this game. I think nobody's going to forget that, but my goal is to help this ballclub win and I'm glad I was able to do that tonight," said Pujols moments after the Angels snapped a five-game losing streak with an 8-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
"The special thing about Albert is that when you see him in the dugout, he's got one thing on his mind and that's winning," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He's pulling for his teammates, he wants us to do well and every time he has one of these milestone hits, we don't even know about it until the game's over.
"He just keeps playing."
Pujols found a 90 mph Karns fastball to his liking on an 0-1 count and deposited it deep into the right-field seats to give the Angels a 4-0 lead.
In the third inning, the veteran Angels' first baseman stroked a leadoff double to pass George Brett on the all-time extra-base hit list, and scored on an RBI two-bagger by David Freese to make the score 3-0. The home run then gave Pujols 1,121 extra-base hits, one behind Manny Ramirez, who is 14th on the all-time list.
"Every time Albert hits a home run it's fun to experience it, and to see the Hall of Fame roster that's included every time he gets a hit or an RBI or a home run it's a special time and it's fun to watch him," Scioscia said.
"I don't concentrate on who's in front of me, or who I have passed. My goal is to try to get good quality at-bats and do whatever I can to help this ballclub to win," said Pujols.
While the Angels' slugger prefers to keep personal accomplishments in perspective, he conceded that career milestones are easier to acknowledge when they help his team to victory.
"Definitely. Of course, that's what you do. Your job is to try to win games all the time and obviously to contribute like that and help this ballclub to win, especially with the way that the last couple of games have been tough for us," Pujols said.
Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt currently occupies the 15th spot on MLB's all-time home run list with 548.
"I'm going to have plenty of time at the end of the season and at the end of my career to look back and see what I've done in this game, but my focus day in and day out over the next six years is that I do whatever I can to help this ballclub to win." Pujols said.