Pujols ties Angels record with 13th HR in June
ANAHEIM -- Albert Pujols tied the Angels' record for most home runs in a month with his 13th long ball in June Tuesday night. The home run was the front end of back-to-back jacks by Pujols and Erick Aybar leading off the sixth inning of the Angels' 2-1 victory over the Yankees at Angel Stadium.
Pujols' shot to center field off New York right-hander Ivan Nova tied the Angels' slugger with Mo Vaughn, who hit 13 in May 2000, and Tim Salmon, who did it in June 1996. Pujols' home run Tuesday capped a brilliant month in which he hit .303 with the 13 homers, 26 RBIs, 13 walks and just eight strikeouts in 27 games and 114 plate appearances.
"I think we're seeing Albert at his best," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're seeing what he did in St. Louis year after year. He's found that groove, and especially, really, with no protection behind him. That you would normally have, where you'd have somebody maybe driving the ball behind a hitter like Albert.
"He's managed to remain incredibly productive, hit in the clutch, do everything that you're looking for a guy in the middle of your order to do. We need him to keep going, and we need the rest of the lineup to carry their weight if we're going to get to our goal."
Pujols, who entered the Angels' final game of the month having struck out just six times in June, struck out in each of his first two at-bats against Nova. But his third time up, on Nova's first pitch of the inning, he got all of a 92-mph fastball for his American League-leading 24th home run of the season.
The home run also moved Pujols past Tris Speaker into 13th place on the all-time extra-base hits list, with 1,132 (based on statistics recorded by baseball-reference.com). Next on the list is Ty Cobb, with 1,136.
Pujols' homer tied the game, and Aybar followed with one of his own, the back-to-back homers giving the Angels a 2-1 lead. Aybar's homer was also to center field, his first to center in 47 career home runs.
For all the milestones Pujols' home run contributed to, Aybar's was the one that provided the margin of victory in the game and helped give left-hander Andrew Heaney his first Major League win.
"I think Erick for probably his last 20-25 at-bats, you're seeing better balance, he's hitting the ball harder," Scioscia said. "Before then, he was really struggling, especially when he was hitting at the top of our lineup. He was just struggling to get some kind of consistency.
"He surprised me with that ball to center -- I mean, little guy hit it a long way to get it out to that part of the park."