Pujols hits No. 659, one shy of Mays

August 5th, 2020

Angels first baseman is now just one home run away from catching Hall of Famer Willie Mays’ career total of 660 blasts, as Pujols crushed a two-run shot off Mariners right-hander Justin Dunn in the first inning at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday. It was one of three homers from the Angels in a 5-3 win that saw them improve to 4-7 on the year.

With at second base after a walk and a stolen base, Pujols hammered a 3-1 curveball from Dunn to left for his third homer of the year and No. 659 in his career. He only trails Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Alex Rodriguez (696) and Mays on the all-time homer list. It left the bat at 97.2 mph and went a projected 378 feet, per Statcast, and marked his second straight game with a homer after Pujols hit a grand slam against the Astros on Sunday.

“It looks like he’s on time better right now,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Albert has been getting more comfortable in the box. The home runs have been hit really, really well. I’m not looking at his average. I’m looking at the quality of his at-bats and for me they are getting incrementally better.”

Pujols now has 2,082 career RBIs, which is fourth all time behind Aaron (2,297), Ruth (2,214) and Rodriguez (2,086). Ruth, however, is only credited with 1,992 RBIs by The Elias Sports Bureau because the RBI didn't become an official stat until 1920. So Pujols’ total is actually already ranked third by the official statistician of Major League Baseball.

The homer was one of two in the first inning for the Angels, as superstar Mike Trout went deep in his first at-bat since the birth of his first child, a son named Beckham Aaron born on Thursday. Rookie Jo Adell also added an infield single in his first Major League at-bat, giving the Angels an eventful first frame and a 3-0 lead.

added a two-run shot to left off reliever Erik Swanson in the seventh to give the Angels a couple of insurance runs. It was the first homer of the year for Fletcher and the 16th for the Angels, who are tied for second in the American League in homers this season. Fletcher also made several impressive defensive plays, including robbing Dylan Moore of a hit on an incredible play up the middle in the ninth inning.

“He had a wonderful night at shortstop,” Maddon said. “That's what you need -- you need to pitch the ball, you need to play tight defense, the hits will come.”

Angels go closer by committee

Maddon met with before the game to let him know that he will no longer serve as closer and that the Angels will be using a closer-by-committee approach. appears primed to get his share of save opportunities and closed out the game with a four-out save.

"I told him that we’re going to go closer by committee, and that I want to get him into more earlier innings to get some work and to get back to where he had been," Maddon said. "Ty did a wonderful job. But you're going to see a lot of mixing and matching going on based on availability. And I don't want to run anybody into the ground, either. We'll try to pass it around a bit."